The Evansville IceMen won their third straight game at home on Wednesday as they handled their arch rival Ft. Wayne Komets at the Ford Center. The IceMen were strong defensively, prepping for a late offensive push that put three goals in-net in the third period. With the win, Evansville has now received six-of-eight possible points to start the new calendar year.
IceMen Goaltender Paul Dainton provided for another one-goal outing by the home town club, saving 29-of-30 shots faced on his way to a .967 save percentage. Dainton accounted for what may be considered the turning point of the game 13:30 into the second period when he stifled the Komets flurry of shots near the crease. The IceMen gained momentum at that point as they owned puck possession for the majority of the remainder of regulation. Dainton was voted the game's second star. Dainton is now (2-5-1) on the season.
IceMen Right Winger Kevin Baker became the owner of the game-winning goal for the second consecutive game, with this one coming 5:27 into the third period. Baker's 11th goal of the season gave the IceMen a 2-0 lead and was assisted by IceMen Center Todd Robinson and Left Winger Josh Beaulieu. Robinson, on his way to the first star of the game honor, assisted on the game-winner. The IceMen team captain later added a second assist, finishing the game with two assists and a +1 rating.
The game was scoreless throughout 33:47 of game clock on Wednesday until IceMen Defenseman Daniel Tetrault beat Ft. Wayne Goaltender Marco Cousineau for the game's first goal. Tetrault's fourth goal of the season was assisted by IceMen Left Winger Dylan Clarke and Defenseman Anton Blomqvist. Tetrault finished the game with one goal, one assist, and a +2 rating, and now owns a +8 rating in the last four games. Evansville improves its record when scoring the game's first goal to (11-6-2) on the season.
The closest either team got to scoring in the first period and a half was 7:24 into the period when IceMen Right Winger Sebastian Wannstrom attempted a wrap-around that sat at the right pad of Ft. Wayne's Cousineau. Attempting to jam the sitting puck in net were IceMen Left Winger Anthony Nigro and Right Winger Trent Vogelhuber, with Vogelhuber eventually succeeding. The goal was waived off, however, due to a prior whistle blown by officials.
The IceMen had another opportunity to net the game's first goal when they received a power play late in the first period, officially at the 19:22. Ft. Wayne Defenseman Nick Schaus and Evansville's Wannstrom mixed it up behind the Komets net. Schaus received a double-minor on the occurrence, while Wannstrom received a minor, giving the IceMen a man advantage that went along the wayside early in the second period.
Ft. Wayne Right Winger Jean-Michel Rizk put the Komets on the board with their one-and-only goal of the game against the IceMen. Rizk's 15th goal of the season cut the Evansville lead to one early in the third period.
Doubling Evansville's lead at 3-1 at the 15:20 mark of the third period was Center Nathan Moon, who redirected a shot fired from point by Defenseman Aaron Gens. Moon's 12th goal of the season was started by Robinson, collecting his second assist of the game.
Adding the final IceMen goal on Wednesday was Clarke, who also notched his 12th goal of the season on a two-on-one breakaway 17:09 into the final frame. Earning his second point of the game on the tally that gave Evansville a 4-1 advantage was Moon. Taking ownership of the second assist on the goal was Tetrault. Clark finished the game with one goal, one assist, and a +1 rating that paved his way to the third star of the game consideration.
Clarke has scored nine of his eleven goals this season with Evansville and has accounted for 22 points (9G,13A) in just 16 games with the IceMen.
The losing goaltender was Ft. Wayne's Cousineau, who saved 28-of-32 shots faced, accumulating a .875 save percentage. Cousineau's season record falls to (3-3-0).
The IceMen power play went 1-for-3 and continue their streak to four straight games with a power play goal. Evansville is now four for its last eleven man advantages. Ft. Wayne's power play was blanked on Wednesday, going 0-for-3 on the night. The IceMen penalty killing unit has dislodged eleven straight opponent advantages.
Evansville outshot the Komets for the game, 32-30, and extend their streak of outshooting opponents to five straight games. The IceMen have now outshot their opponents in eleven of their previous fifteen outings. The IceMen at home in the last three games have outscored their opponents, 13-3, and have outscored the Komets in the last two meetings, 9-1.
The IceMen have scored four or more goals in three straight home games and are now (11-1-0) on the season when doing so. Likewise, Evansville has disallowed fewer than two goals in each of their last three home game and are now a perfect (10-0-0) when achieving the feat this season.
Evansville's overall record improves to 38(14-21-3) on the season. The IceMen have climbed back to within two points of the fourth place Kalamazoo Wings in the North Division. The Komets record falls to 37(19-16-2) on the season as they remain in third place in the North.