EVANSVILLE, Ind. – History was made on Friday night as the Evansville IceMen won the first ever shootout in the existence of the Ford Center. Evansville defeated North Division rival Cincinnati Cyclones in dramatic fashion, avenging a lopsided loss the last time these two heavyweights hit the ice. The ninth matchup between the IceMen and Cyclones this season added to a trending mutual dislike of each other as the game opened and ended with line brawls at center ice.
IceMen Left Winger Dylan Clarke scored the game-winning goal in the fourth round of the shootout, forcing Cincinnati’s Center David Pacan to answer. Pacan was stymied by IceMen Goaltender Paul Dainton as the IceMen walked off in a winning state. Dainton conquered all five Cyclones shooters in the shootout. Clarke finished the game clincher in the shootout, as well as one assist in regulation, all on his way to the game’s first star honor.
Evansville was facing a one-goal deficit in the final period until Left Winger Josh Beaulieu netted his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Assists on the equalizer, officially coming 3:22 into the third period, came from IceMen Center Todd Robinson and Right Winger Kevin Baker. Robinson continues his dominance on the stat sheet, adding two more assists on Friday. The IceMen team captain leads the team in overall scoring with 42 points as well as 39 assists.
The IceMen were presented a golden opportunity at the commencement of the game when Cincinnati Forward Andrew Conboy jumped IceMen Forward Nathan Moon just four seconds into the first period. The action inspired a line brawl that resulted in a five-minute Evansville power play. The IceMen struck for the opening goal on that power play when Left Winger Anthony Nigro scored his third of the season for Evansville 1:51 into the first period. Evansville’s Clarke earned an assist on the game’s initial goal.
The Cyclones tallied the next two goals, with the first coming from the haunting stick of Forward Josh Shalla 5:24 into the opening stanza. The go-ahead goal, scored at the 9:34 point of the first period, was scored by Cincinnati Forward Garrett Wilson. Cincinnati’s Pacan dealt an assist in each of the two lamp-lighters.
The IceMen equalized seconds later when Defenseman Jake Obermeyer rocketed goal number two on the season, evening the score at 2-2. IceMen Left Winger and returning prospect Stefan Della Rovere received the assist on the goal. Della Rovere was instrumental in his return to the lineup, playing a dynamic role in the physical play for Evansville. Also earning an assist on the goal was Moon.
The second period saw fewer fights, but nearly just as many goals. Cincinnati Forward Dan Eves gave the Cyclones another lead a mere 26 seconds into the middle frame. The 3-2 Cincinnati lead lasted until the 9:30 mark of the period when Evansville’s Moon added the second power play goal of the game for the IceMen. Assists on yet another equalizing goal came from IceMen Defenseman Daniel Tetrault and Robinson.
Cincinnati center and leading scorer Michael Palach made it a 4-3 game 15:15 into the second period with his 10th goal of the season. The final Cyclones goal was answered by Evansville’s Beaulieu early in the third period.
Evansville’s Dainton prevailed the victor against the Cyclones after saving 23-of-27 shots faced, equalling a .852 save percentage. The most important stat for Dainton on Friday, however, was the perfect save percentage and capturing of all five shots in the shootout. Dainton improves his record to (3-6-1) on the season.
Cincinnati Goaltender Zoltan Hetenyi received the loss, as he saved 36-of-40 shots on his way to a .900 save percentage. Hetenyi alters his record to (5-4-2) on the season for the Cyclones.
The IceMen power play was efficient on Friday, going 2-for-5 against the Cyclones’ penalty kill. Evansville’s penalty killing unit maintained its strong play as they discharged all six Cincinnati man advantages. Friday night’s game featured 34 penalties for 123 overall penalty minutes.
Evansville improves its overall recored to (17-26-4) on the season for 38 points in the North Division. Cincinnati remains atop the North Division standings despite the shootout loss as they move their record to (26-15-6)58 on the season.
The IceMen get right back on the ice on Saturday, Feb. 2 when they play host the Elmira Jackals for the second time this season. Saturday’s game is Deaconess Heart Night as well as the playing of the Guns and Hoses matchup following ECHL action at the Ford Center. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. and will be broadcasted by ‘Magic 98.5’ FM and 1400 AM WEOA, as well as the rest of the IceMen Radio Network.