Ice Breakers Edge Thunderbirds for First Home Win
By Jared Tennant
Mentor, OH - The Mentor Ice Breakers continued their improved play with a 4-3 victory over the visiting Carolina Thunderbirds on Wednesday night at Mentor Ice Arena. This set two franchise marks: their first home win, and their first winning streak.
“It was a full team effort from the first puck drop to the last whistle,” said Ice Breakers Head Coach and General Manager Iain Duncan. “That’s huge for everybody, coming off of the first win in franchise history, and we showed everyone we can compete with the first-place team.”
Things weren’t looking good for Mentor in the first period after Joe Cangelosi netted his first pro goal off a feed from Everett Thompson to give the Thunderbirds an early 1-0 lead. It was the only goal in an otherwise quiet opening period.
Carolina extended its lead to 2-0 at 4:09 of the second period when Karel Drahorad scored an unassisted tally. It was Drahorad’s fifth goal of the season, giving the Czech Republic native seven points on the campaign (5-2-7). Ice Breakers forward Mark Essery continued his hot stretch with a power play goal just over two minutes later off assists from Gordy Bonnel and Tim Perks that cut the deficit to 2-1. Essery, a Connecticut product who played professionally in Germany last season, leads the Ice Breakers with a 6-3-9 scoring line in eight games. At 12:45 of the second, Bonnel finished a tip-in on another power play opportunity to tie the game at two goals apiece; Essery and Swiss blueliner Thomas Devesvre contributed the assists. The T-Birds led shots on goal 23-18 as the two clubs headed to their respective locker rooms for the second intermission.
Mentor entered the third period with 1:30 left on a two-minute power play. The Ice Breakers were unable to score on the man advantage, but immediately after the penalty expired, forward Tim Perks gave the Breakers a 3-2 lead. Carolina fought back, though, tying things back up on Viktor Grebennikov’s first goal with the club. Jan Salak dished out the assist on the tally. With less than six minutes to go, Thomas McKinnon beat Thunderbirds netminder Henry Dill for his first pro goal to give Mentor a 4-3 lead. Patrick Porkka and Joe Ftoma assisted on the goal, which sent Mentor Ice Arena into a frenzy. After an intense battle in the final minutes of the contest, the Ice Breakers held on for the 4-3 victory, handing Carolina its second loss of the season. The T-Birds held a slight edge in shots on goal, 32-31.
Derek Moser moved to 2-0-0-0 in his young pro career after stopping 29 of 32 Thunderbird attempts. Dill fell to 5-2-0-0, stopping 27 of 31 Ice Breakers shots. The Ice Breakers had a solid outing on special teams, going 2 for 6 on the power play against the league-leading Carolina penalty kill and successfully killing off both Thunderbirds’ power play chances.
Both teams are back in action tomorrow on Thanksgiving from the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex in North Carolina. Tune in to all the action at TFMSports.com.
Photo credit: Angelo Velotta