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Ice Breakers Open Homestand With 6-2 Win

December 14, 2019 - Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) - Mentor Ice Breakers News Release

Mentor, OH - A complete team effort helped the Mentor Ice Breakers defeat the visiting Battle Creek Rumble Bees 6-2 on Saturday night at Mentor Ice Arena, completing the weekend sweep and giving Mentor its sixth straight win over Battle Creek. The victory allowed the Ice Breakers to keep pace in the crowded Eastern Division, pushing them into a second-place tie with Watertown as both clubs trail Danbury by two points.

Forward Declan Conway dominated the Rumble Bees in both contests this weekend, following up a four-goal, one-assist performance on Friday night with a three-point outing (2-1-3) on Saturday, coming up just short of his second consecutive hat trick. The Painesville, Ohio product grew up playing hockey at Mentor Ice Arena and is now leading the FPHL in goals with 19 on the year.

"This weekend was pretty special getting my first pro hat trick," said Conway. "My linemates have scored a bunch too and its been a great week."

It was another Ohio native, defenseman Brody Duncan, who opened the scoring with a rocket of a slapshot just over a minute into the opening frame after taking the puck coast-to-coast with a strong individual effort. At 5:42, Duncan picked up another point with the secondary assist on a goal by Mark Essery. Blake Naida, who also hails from Northeast Ohio, contributed the primary helper.

Battle Creek cut the deficit in half when Ryan Alves sniped a wrist shot over the shoulder of goaltender Jordan Brant from a difficult angle shortly after a faceoff. All three of Alves' goals this season have come against the Ice Breakers, his former club. With 47 seconds left in the opening frame, Tim Perks scored a momentum-shifting tally on the power play with Conway and Henry Berger getting the assists, giving Mentor a 3-1 lead at the first break.

The Rumble Bees benefitted from a crazy sequence of events early in the second frame. Ice Breakers captain Nate Farrington skated in on a breakaway and banged a shot off the crossbar, although the Ice Breakers faithful initially thought the shot had found the back of the net. While fans celebrated what they thought to be a three-goal advantage, Battle Creek snatched up the loose puck and fed Adam Howey, who beat Brant on a wrist shot to the glove side to make it a 3-2 game.

At 7:36, FPHL leading scorer Jon Buttitta found twine on a 2-on-1 fast break before Conway scored his first of the night at 11:30, supplying the Ice Breakers with a 5-2 lead at the second intermission. It took less than three minutes into the third period for Conway and Buttitta to hook up once again, this time on a crisp backdoor pass from the latter to the former, to make it a 6-2 final score.

In addition to Conway's three-point showing, four Ice Breakers registered multiple points. Blueliner Dzmitry Daniliuk dished out two assists while Essery, Buttitta, and Duncan each scored and had an assist. Between the pipes, Brant picked up his second consecutive win over Battle Creek by stopping 18 of 20 shots.

For the Bees, starter Joel Eisenhower dropped to 0-6-0-0 despite a 43-save effort. Mentor was able to capitalize on one of its six power plays while the Rumble Bees went 0 for 4 on the man advantage. Overall, the Ice Breakers out-shot Battle Creek 49-20, including 17-4 in the final period.

Next weekend, the Ice Breakers have a tough matchup against the league-leading Carolina Thunderbirds, who are coming off their second loss of the season as they dropped a 4-3 decision in a shootout against Elmira.

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