Dashers drop tough, controversial loss to Mentor
By Nate Williamson
Danville, IL -- The Danville Dashers opened up a home-and-home weekend series with the Mentor Ice Breakers in Federal Prospect Hockey League action on Friday night at the David S. Palmer Arena in downtown Danville.
The Dashers were hosting 70’s Night at the arena, and the atmosphere was ready and rocking by the time the puck dropped around 7pm. With the Dashers riding a streak of good performances, the expectations were high for a good showing from the home crowd.
As it turned out, it would be the visiting Ice Breakers that would score first, though. Stepan Jirovec beat Jesse Gordichuk, with his shot leaking through the Dashers’ goaltender’s pads and into the back of the net to open the scoring with just seven minutes off the gameclock.
There were several moments in the first period where it felt like the dam was about to crack for the Dashers, but Mentor goaltender Austyn Roudebush held firm, and it was the Mentor Ice Breakers who struck for the second time from a Declan Conway shot that once again leaked through Gordichuk’s pads. The official assists went to Nathan Farrington and Steven Fowler, but may as well have gone to the whole of the Ice Breakers side, as they were firmly in control thanks to calm passing and quick recovery on the defensive end.
It was all Mentor heading into the first break, until Fred Hein found the scoresheet with just seven minutes gone on a penalty play that was awarded to the Dashers after Jirovec was flagged for Tripping. Assisting on that goal were Ben Boukal and Jesse Neher, who worked nicely to feed the puck through to Hein who slotted home.
Danville found a bit of momentum after that, when Sam Turner netted just under three minutes later to pull the score back to even, on assists from Justin Brausen and A.J. Tesoriero. It was another penalty-filled event, with the two sides racking up 11 penalties throughout the game, and several plays were let go and deemed offsetting by the referees, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
The deciding goal, however, came on even-strength when Nathan Farrington scored a solo goal as he wove his way through the Dasher defense, and fired a bar-down slapshot past Gordichuk. That was the go-ahead goal—and seemed a theme for the Dashers on the night: close, but not close enough.
After that Declan Conway scored with just 45 seconds left on the clock on assists from Farrington and defenseman Brody Duncan, on a power play. That advantage came as the result of Danville goaltender Jesse Gordichuk getting a delay of game penalty for tossing his goal off the hinges in anger after being, what he and many others on the sidelines thought, slashed repeatedly in the mask, in a play that in the end forced the Danville goaltender to the ground.
Many a Dasher came to his aid in that circumstance, which led to forward Levi Armstrong and the Ice Breakers’ Joseph Keenan being thrown out of the game for the remaining 45 seconds or so. The Dasher fans may have been at their loudest at the conclusion of this string of events on the night, that brought many boos and chants from the crowd.
It was all Mentor for the rest of the night thanks to the penalties, but even at even strength, that was the team that seemed in control for the majority of the night. It’s sure to be an interesting matchup when the two play their rubber match of the three-game continuous series on Saturday night in Mentor.
The third star went to the Dashers’ Nick Gullo, with the second and first star going to Mentor’s Declan Conway and Nathan Farrington, respectively.
You can catch the next game on the Mentor Ice Breakers YouTube channel, or like the various social media pages to stay up to date.