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Ice Breakers Cool Off Streaking Hat Tricks

December 27, 2019 - Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) - Mentor Ice Breakers News Release

Coming off a pair of tough home losses against the Carolina Thunderbirds, the Mentor Ice Breakers were in desperate need of a victory with the Danbury Hat Tricks, winners of 11 straight, making their first and only visit of the season to Mentor Ice Arena. A quick start combined with a strong effort on the penalty kill allowed the Ice Breakers to hang on for a 6-5 win.

"We've been struggling a little bit at home and we have to start taking advantage of our home ice," said Mentor Head Coach Iain Duncan. "Tonight, we did that. It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but we killed off a lot of penalties and scored when we needed to."

Overall, Mentor went a flawless 9 for 9 on the penalty kill, including a pair of lengthy 5 on 3 kills. On the season, the Ice Breakers have an 87 percent efficiency on the kill, second-best in the FPHL.

Declan Conway drew first blood just 25 seconds into the game before Alex Morrow tipped home a wrist shot on the power play at 1:34 to put Mentor on top 2-0. Zac McKenna capped off a stretch of three goals in just under five minutes on a deflection of a wrist shot from the point by Joe Keenan.

Mentor's penalty kill was put to the test midway through the period when Henry Berger and Dzmitry Daniliuk were called for hooking penalties within 27 seconds of each other. Several stellar saves from netminder Austyn Roudebush kept the Hat Tricks from scoring on the ensuing power play.

At 12:49, Nicola Levesque got Danbury on the board before Carter Shinkaruk found twine exactly five minutes later, sending both clubs to the locker room with Mentor on top 3-2. Despite the Ice Breakers' red-hot flurry to open the frame, the Hat Tricks held a 21-10 advantage in shots on goal at the first break.

Captain Nate Farrington gave Mentor some breathing room just 52 seconds into the second period before Levesque responded at 2:09 to make it a 4-3 game in favor of the Ice Breakers. A few minutes later, Conway netted his second of the night off assists from Farrington and Keenan.

The second period concluded with Mentor on top 5-4 after former Ice Breaker Gordy Bonnel fired home a slapshot on a 2-on-1 shorthanded break alongside teammate Casper Dyrssen. It was the sixth shorthanded goal of the season for the Hat Tricks and the fifth shortie allowed by Mentor.

Mark Essery provided the home team with some breathing at 4:18 of the final period off a beautiful backhanded pass from Conway with Farrington factoring in with a secondary assist. The Ice Breakers killed off another 5 on 3 midway through the third period, but Danbury pulled within one at 17:15 on a goal by veteran blueliner Steve Brown, setting up an intense final three minutes of play.

Some clutch saves by Roudebush and strong team defense allowed Mentor to fend off the Danbury attack and hang on for the 6-5 win, snapping the Hat Tricks' lengthy winning streak.

"It was a huge team win for us," said Duncan. "We gained three points in the standings and we're looking forward to Port Huron tomorrow night. We're looking for nine points this weekend, not just three."

Mentor out-shot Danbury 41-40 and received multi-point performances from Conway (2-2-4), Farrington (1-2-3), Essery (1-1-2), and Keenan (0-2-2). Roudebush stopped 35 shots and improved to 10-7-0-0 on the year.

For Danbury, netminder Thomas McGuckin fell to 7-3-1-1 with a 35-save effort while Levesque scored twice and dished out an assist. Defenseman Aaron Atwell collected three helpers while Shinkaruk scored and had an assist.

The Ice Breakers are back in action on Friday and Saturday with a two-game series against the Port Huron Prowlers to wrap up a six-game homestand.

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