IceGators Win in 3OT, Force Game 3 Against Huntsville
Huntsville, Alabama–Just when you thought you had seen it all from the Louisiana IceGators, they find a way to surprise you with something new. Three days after dropping game one of their SPHL semifinal series to the Huntsville Havoc in Lafayette, the IceGators stole a 2-1 triple overtime win Friday night at the Breland Homes Ice Arena. Troy Ofukany tied the game with 10 seconds remaining in regulation. Weston Cydell ended the marathon match at the stroke of midnight–nearly four-and-a-half hours after it began–with a goal at the 11:20 mark of the sixth period. The victory was also the IceGators’ first on the road since March 15.
The third and final game of this series will be played Saturday night in the Cajundome at 7:05 P. M. The winner will play the winner of the Pensacola/Knoxville series in the President’s Cup Finals.
“The boys persevered tonight,” said IceGators coach Kevin Kaminski. “They gave a gutsy performance. I really thought we played a solid road game and stuck to our plan. We competed hard, and the care factor was at another level. We kept our nose to the grindstone for six periods and never quit.”
The game was a classic goalie duel. Through the first two periods, Louisiana’s Dustin Carlson and Huntsville’s Jesse Kallechy stopped a combined 30 shots in the first two periods. Carlson had his best outing since signing with the IceGators, stopping 43 of 44 shots. Kallechy, who stopped 60 shots in the game, made several huge saves late in the game despite not receiving any help from his front line. The IceGators pelted Kallechy with a total 49 shots in the third period and the overtime frames.
The teams’ penalty kill units were also spectacular. Neither team allowed a powerplay goal in a combined 11 penalty situations. The IceGators penalty kill unit had its best outing in several weeks, shutting down all eight of the Havoc’s powerplays.
Huntsville took a 1-0 lead at the 3:55 mark of the third period when Matt Smyth scored off assists from Justin Fox and Stuart Stefan. The IceGators literally waited until the last minute to tie the game. Ofukany’s goal was scored with an extra attacker on the ice. It also came on Louisiana’s nineteenth shot of the frame.
The IceGators nearly allowed the game to slip away in the second overtime. Huntsville capitalized on a defensive breakdown and skated up ice for a breakaway opportunity. Carlson, however, came up with a huge save to keep Louisiana in the game.
The IceGators capitalized on a rush of their own in the next overtime frame. Matt Robertson passed the puck to Cydell, who went top shelf on Kallechy’s short side to end the game.
Kaminski says the win is even sweeter considering some of the distractions the team had on its way to Huntsville.
“Our bus broke down Wednesday night around midnight,” he said. “We spent 26 hours on the bus, and we didn’t get to Huntsville until 3:00 (Friday) morning. The boys didn’t use that as an excuse tonight. Now we have to stay focused and win one more.”