Ice Breakers Top Dashers in Series Opener

By Jared Tennant 

Mentor, OH - In a battle of the fifth and sixth place teams in the Federal Hockey League, the Mentor Ice Breakers scored five times over the first two periods en route to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Danville Dashers at Mentor Civic Ice Arena on Friday night. With the win, the Ice Breakers move to 10-27-0-2 — Eight points behind the Dashers in the FHL standings.

Due to travel issues, the Dashers didn’t arrive in Mentor until 7:30 PM — The scheduled start time for the game. After a quick warm-up, the puck finally dropped a little under an hour later. Playing on the road is tough enough as is, but the late arrival made things even more difficult for a Dashers club that has struggled mightily away from home.

The Ice Breakers got off to the quick start they were looking for when Brett Oldaker scored his 10th goal of the year at 2:14 of the opening frame. Matt Kadolph possessed the puck behind the Dashers’ net before feeding Oldaker in front for a one-time finish; Dzmitry Daniliuk also chipped in with an assist on the goal. Just over five minutes later, winger Vaughn Clouston scored on a shot that Dashers goalie Matt Arnold didn’t see until it was in the back of the net. Arnold, who was making his first professional start, was completely screened on the play as Clouston fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Danville cut Mentor’s lead in half at 10:21 when Fred Hein drove in hard from the right side of the net and forced the puck through the leg pads of Ice Breakers netminder John Sellie-Hanson. Hein used his speed to create offense after taking a pass from veteran forward Justin Brausen. The first penalty of the game wasn’t called until Dashers defenseman Taylor Cutting took a two-minute minor for cross-checking with less than five minutes remaining until the first intermission. Danville’s penalty kill unit came through, but 37 year old blueliner Ryan Koresky netted the first goal of his brief pro career with only 5.2 seconds left in the period. Koresky seemed to catch Arnold off guard after skating up to the crease from his spot at the point and depositing a behind-the-net pass from Patrick Porkka in on the near-side post.

At 2:25 of the second period, Porkka scored a goal that was quite similar to Hein’s to give the Ice Breakers a 4-1 advantage. The Rauma, Finland native skated in with speed from the right side and flipped the puck over the pad of Arnold. Tommy Mahoney and Clouston contributed assists on the goal, which was Porkka’s 11th of the season — Matching his total from his 36-game stint with the North Shore Knights last season. A little bit later, Tim Perks was involved in a 2-on-1 fast break in his first game back with Mentor following a lengthy stay on injured reserve. Arnold made a nice save but appeared to be injured on the play after a collision. He managed to stay in the game, but it was a scary moment for the rookie goaltender. The Ice Breakers took their biggest lead of the game at 13:55 when Clouston scored his second of the night from an impossible angle. The Michigan product picked up a loose puck behind the Dashers net before banking it in off the back of Arnold’s leg. Clouston’s goal prompted Danville Head Coach Rod Davidson to make a goalie change, inserting veteran workhorse Matt Kaludis into the game. Through the first two periods, the Ice Breakers used a stifling defensive effort to hold Danville to only 10 shots on goal. Other than a breakaway chance by Daniel Martin midway through the frame, the Ice Breakers made things relatively easy for Sellie-Hanson.

The Dashers struck first in the final period when former Ice Breaker Ryan Alves took advantage of a scramble in front of Mentor’s net, getting a puck on goal that trickled through the leg pads of Sellie-Hanson. Danville appeared to control play over the first few minutes of the frame, but any momentum they gained was derailed by penalties. After Eric Masters was called for cross-checking at 8:06, Martin took a cross-checking penalty of his own 53 seconds later to give the Ice Breakers a 5-on-3 power play. Mentor capitalized 54 seconds into the two-man advantage when Mark Essery deflected home a slap shot from Joe Ftoma to cap off the scoring in the game and ultimately give the Ice Breakers a 6-2 victory.

For the Dashers, Arnold finished his pro debut with 28 saves on 34 shots. The 27 year old was inserted back into the game for the final period and was able to settle down, stopping 8 of 9 Ice Breakers shots. Hein had a solid night with a goal and an assist, while Brausen assisted on both Dashers goals. Several Ice Breakers had productive nights, led by Clouston’s four-point effort (2-2-4). Mahoney and Ftoma both dished out a pair of assists, while Porkka chipped in with a goal and a helper. Sellie-Hanson improved to 2-5-0 after making 19 saves. 

These two teams are back in action tomorrow night from David S. Palmer Arena in Danville, IL. The three-game series will conclude on Sunday night in Danville.

Photo credit: Dee Hannum