ELMIRA, N.Y. – The Evansville IceMen were unable to maintain a 2-0 lead over Elmira for the second time in as many games this season as the Jackals completed the comeback on Friday at First Arena. The IceMen, however, gained a valuable point in the North Division standings with the overtime loss. The point attained on Friday is the first point received by Evansville on the road since Nov. 24.
Elmira Defenseman Ben Blood scored the goal that capped the comeback 1:55 into the overtime period. Blood’s first goal of the season was assisted by Elmira Forward Louie Caporusso and Defenseman Danny New. Blood was voted the first star of the game with the goal and a +1 rating against Evansville.
IceMen Left Winger Anthony Nigro gave Evansville an early 1-0 lead 4:30 into the opening period. Nigro’s second goal of the season was started by his face-off win that lead to a shot by IceMen Center Nathan Moon. The shot was saved, then rebounded inward by Nigro, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Friday. Evansville prevailed with the game’s first goal for the 12th time in the team’s last 16 games. The IceMen are now (11-6-3) when accomplishing the first tally this season.
Evansville took a lead into the second period for a 16th time this season, this one standing at 1-0 until 4:44 into the frame when IceMen Defenseman Jake Obermeyer found the back of the net. Obermeyer’s first goal of the season gave the IceMen the two-goal advantage and was assisted by IceMen Defenseman Donnie Harris. The assist by the newly acquired Harris was his first point with Evansville in his second game with the team. Also receiving credit for an assist was Nigro, who finished the game one goal, one assist, and a +1 rating.
Elmira Forward Artem Demkov put the Jackals on the board 7:58, just 44 seconds after Evansville’s only power play opportunity in the second period, with his team-leading 21st goal of the season. Taking ownership of the lone assist on the breakaway succession by Demkov was Elmira Forward Dustin Gazley, who added the tie-breaking goal for the Jackals 4:14 into the third period. Gazley was voted the game’s second star after concluding the game with one goal, one assist, and a +2 rating. Gazley’s 11th goal of the season was assisted by Elmira Defenseman Justin DeCasta and Forward Andrew Rowe. Gazley has scored a goal in each of his appearances against the IceMen this season.
Evansville was under siege for most of the third period while being outshot in the frame 16-6. IceMen Goaltender Paul Karpowich stood tall, however, saving 15-of-16 shots faced, including five shots that came on a Jackals power play opportunity warranted by an Evansville tripping penalty pinned on Harris 5:43 into the period. Karpowich saved 37-of-40 shots faced for the game and recorded a .925 save percentage. With the overtime loss, the IceMen net-minder’s record moves to (5-7-2) on the season.
The winning goaltender was Elmira’s Marc Cheverie as his record improves to (10-9-1) on the season. Cheverie was voted the game’s third star behind a .929 save percentage after saving 26-of-28 shots faced.
Evansville’s power play went 0-for-3 on Friday, ending their four-game streak of scoring a power play goal. The IceMen penalty killing unit disassembled both of Elmira’s man advantages on the game and have killed off 13 straight opponent power play opportunities. The Jackals outshot the IceMen on Friday, 40-28, representing only the fourth time in the last 16 games that an opponent has outperformed Evansville in that category.
While Elmira entered play against Evansville with a full and healthy roster, the IceMen went into action with just four healthy and true defensemen. With the recent call-ups of prospects Brett Ponich (AHL Peoria) and Anton Blomqvist (AHL Springfield), as well as the departure of Jesse Perrin (CHL Missouri), the IceMen used two forwards to fill the defensive vacancies. Center Jason Dale and Right Winger Patrick Kennedy both played regular shifts on the back-end against Elmira.
The IceMen suffered their fourth non-regulation loss on Friday as their record shifts to 39(14-21-4) for 32 points on the season, just one point behind the idle fourth place Kalamazoo Wings. The IceMen continue to produce in the month of January as their record is (3-1-1) this month and have secured 7-of-10 possible points in those contests.
Unlike its recent productivity, Evansville is now (4-9-4) on the road this season and are (0-5-3) since their last regulation win in Reading on Nov. 23. Elmira has won three straight games at home and improves its record to 36(18-15-3) and maintain its second place status in the Atlantic Division with 39 points.
The IceMen will conclude their two-game series in Elmira tomorrow, Jan. 12 as the Jackals will attempt to extend their home winning streak to four games. Evansville will look to continue its favorable start to the new year with their first win against the Jackals. The game is scheduled to start at 6:05 for a second consecutive night and can be heard on ‘Magic 98.5’ FM and 1400 AM WEOA, as well as the rest of the IceMen Radio Network.