Sports

Jan 11, 2013 11:52 PM by Ian Auzenne

ICEGATORS TAKE FIRST PLACE

Lafayette, Louisiana--Another night, another heart attack. The IceGators mounted yet another thrilling comeback in a game filled with highs, lows, and missed opportunities. Despite it all, Louisiana secured a spot atop the SPHL standings with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Pensacola IceFlyers. Jeremy Boyer scored the game-winner in the sixth shootout round.

The IceGators are now tied with Pensacola and Fayetteville for first place in the league. The IceGators travel to Alabama tomorrow to take on the Huntsville Havoc. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 P. M.

"I thought it was a hell of a game," said IceGators Coach Kevin Kaminski. "Both goalies were very good. I think with all (Pensacola's) call-ups, the boys thought it would be an easy night. We stood around and stirred soup early on. I have to give Pensacola credit. They played solid hockey all night."

Kaminski added, "We forgot to put on our hard hats and work boots early, but we responded after the first period and started to play Gator hockey. We did a great job of finding a way to win another close one."

The IceGators didn't just forget their hard hats and boots at the beginning of the game, they didn't show up for work. Louisiana gave up two goals in the first three minutes of the game. John Dunbar and Jeremiah Ketts scored within 40 seconds of each other to give Pensacola an early 2-0 lead.

The IceGators returned to form in the second period, outshooting Pensacola 17-4 in the frame. Kirk Byczynski picked up his fifth goal of the season three minutes into the period off a rebound of his own shot. Robert Short tied the game with just over a minute left with a shot in traffic off another rebound.

The third period and overtime were goalie duels. Garry Festa and Riley Gill both stopped multiple spectacular shots from their opposition. Festa stopped nine shots in the third and overtime, while Gill stopped 13. Both periods were also marked by inopportune turnovers, which stopped potential scoring chances for both teams.

The first shootout goal came in the fifth round, when Mike MacIntyre scored for Pensacola. Jordan Foreman responded to send the shootout into sudden death. Jordan Chong missed his shot, allowing Boyer to score and seal the victory for the IceGators.

Kaminski lauded the performance of his goalie, Riley Gill, who stopped 29 of 31 IceFlyer shots. "He kept us in the game early, and he made two or three key saves for us late in the game. He's our wall. He's our backbone."

Kaminski said his team found the mental toughness he preaches before every game. "If we would have played in the first period like we did in the second and third, we wouldn't have had to go into the shootout," he said. "Nevertheless, we got the job done and are tied for first. Now we have to be road warriors and hold our position in the standings."

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