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Gems Battle Back with Special Team Excellence in 5-4

November 4, 2011 - Central Hockey League (CHL) - Dayton Gems News Release

Moline, Ill - After facing an early three goal deficit, the Dayton Gems used their high power offense and special team excellence to bounce back with a thrilling 5-4 win on the road against division rival Quad City Mallards on Friday night. The win, their first of the season, comes one night prior to the team's much anticipated home opener rematch with the Mallards at Hara Arena on Saturday night at 7pm.

Hot off a pair of wins on the road, Quad City made an early push for their first home win by controlling the tempo right from the opening faceoff. The game took a fuzzy turn while some straggling fans still entered through the turnstiles with the game's first goal by Brandon Marino just 2:56 in to initiate the evening's "Teddy Bear Toss" promotion. With the hometown crowd on their side, the Mallards would extend their lead to two off a snapshot from the far circle by fan favorite Bob Freece at the 5:50 mark before former Dayton Bomber Justin Chwedoruk slid in a close rebound between Gems netminder Kris Westblom to take the 3-0 lead just past the midway mark of the frame at 11:56. A goalie change early not only put Bryan Hogan in relief of Westblom, but seemed to give the Gems a fresh lease on the game for the remainder of the first period. After twenty minutes, the Mallards led 3-0 on the scoresheet and 22-7 on the shot clock.

The middle period would match its predecessor early, with the Gems holding their own in front of Hogan and Dayton earning an early powerplay just seconds in. As time wore along, physicality on both ends of the ice continued to escalate, ultimately reaching a boiling point 12:43 in when Quad City's Tyler Sheldrake caught Gems defenseman John Kennedy with a spear in front of his net, resulting in a barrage of penalties assessed against Sheldrake and Dayton's Kyle Bochek for the resulting round of fisticuffs. After the dust settled, the Gems found themselves being awareded a whopping seven minute powerplay and would squeeze every chance they could out of it. Nick Fanto heated up the man advantage, finding the back of the net at 14:40 off the stick of Chad Langlais to break the scoring seal. Still on the powerplay and just over a minute later at 15:55, Fanto would pick up a high clearing pass from the neutral zone and split the Mallard defense to snap in his second consecutive powerplay goal through the five hole of Quad City netminder Brad Fogal to cut the Mallard lead back to one. After forty minutes, Dayton's second half comeback helped cut the score to 3-2, while the Mallards were outshot in the period by the Gems 12-10.

Carrying over the energy and momentum from the second, Dayton began the third period with confidence, controlling much of the tempo in the Quad City end and continued pressure on Fogal. Showcasing their revamped penalty kill systems courtesy of a handful of obstruction-type penalties over the course of the third, they would score their first even-strength goal at the 11:16 mark, earning Damian Surma his fourth goal in as many games to continue his impressive season starting streak. Surma's goal, assisted by Brett Lutes and Brandon Naurato tied the game at three. The Gems found themselves in the lead off an impossible looking angle shot from the near corner, when Jon Ornelas buried a laser past Fogal for Dayton's third powerplay goal at 14:29 before the Gems extended the lead with Brett Lutes first lamplighter of the season a little more than a minute later, even strength and assisted by the captain Greg Labenski who made the play at the Mallard blueline to send in the initial shot on goal. Facing the two goal deficit, Quad City would cashing in on a late powerplay with seconds winding down in regulation to cut the lead back down to one, but Dayton would hold on for their first win of the season after a full sixty minutes of regulation. Dayton once again outshot the Mallards in the third 11-8 for a game total favoring Quad City 40-30.

With the win, the Gems record improves to 1-1-2, 4pts, while Quad City remains winless at home, and 2-2-0 overall.

Saturday is opening night in Dayton, when they rematch against the Mallards on Cassano's Italian Ice at Hara Arena with faceoff at 7pm. Single Game Tickets are on sale now at the Hara Arena box office and all Ticketmaster outlets. In addition, full season and mini pack ticket packages are still available starting at $27! Call the Gems at 275-7777 for more information and to order by phone.

Fans are also invited to arrive early and help celebrate the return of professional hockey to the Miami Valley with a special pregame tailgate in front of the main lobby entrance. Featuring live music from Stadium Eleven, inflatable bounce houses and interactity for the whole family, this event kicks off at 5pm, with gates opening to the public at 6pm.

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