The Ice begin a busy 6-games-in-12-days stretch against some of the USHL's top teams tonight with a Thanksgiving Eve trip to face league leader Green Bay. The Ice and Gamblers -- as well as Cedar Rapids -- have been the cream of the crop in the USHL's Eastern Conference for the last several years. Tonight features a game where the Ice are trying to catch up to the division leaders. Green Bay has pulled away a bit from a tight pack in the East, with 24 points. The Ice are in a tie for fourth with 18 points with a game in hand.
The Gamblers are getting things done on both ends -- leading the USHL both in scoring and goals allowed. Recently, they added one of the league's top defensemen in Jordan Schmaltz, who will team up with Andy Welinski to form a very strong blueline tandem.
The Ice, of course, feature one of the USHL's most potent lines in Daniil Tarasov-Sean Kuraly-Jacob Fallon. Tarasov, with 20 points, is the league's second-leading scorer. Robbie Baillargeon is in the midst of a six-game point streak. It initially appeared the streak had been snapped last Saturday, but he was given an assist in the final revision of the boxscore. The Ice will be playing without forward Woody Hudson in all three games this week, as he was suspended following a team-record 37 PIMs -- including three majors and two game misconducts -- in the 4-2 loss to Waterloo on Saturday night.
Tonight will also see the likely debut of Ryan Cole, a forward whom the Ice acquired from Lincoln earlier this week.
This will be the second meeting between the teams. The Gamblers rallied from a two-goal deficit in a well-played first game at the Pepsi Coliseum, beating the Ice 5-4 in OT on Nov. 11. Green Bay hasn't lost since that night, and has won five straight.
The game also pits two teams with outstanding special teams -- including the league's top power play (Ice) against Green Bay's league-leading PK unit. GB's PP and the Ice's PK both rank 4th in the USHL. In the first meeting, the Ice scored on their only PP opportunity and killed off all three Gamblers chances.
Adam Wilcox, who was Green Bay's goaltender in that game, was traded to Tri-City on Monday.
After tonight, the Ice return home for seven straight games, starting Friday with a visit from Sioux City, then Saturday against Fargo. Next weekend, the Ice will host Sioux Falls on Dec. 2, then Green Bay on Dec. 3 and 4.
Indiana Ice (8-4-2)
Green Bay Gamblers (12-3-0)
8:05 p.m., Resch Center, Green Bay, Wis.
Season series: Green Bay leads 1-0
Nov. 11: Green Bay 5, Ice 4, OT (at Pepsi Coliseum): Robert Polosello G/2A; Jacob Fallon & Daniil Tarasov G/A each; Jon Gillies 27sv (Ice); Nicholas Shilkey 2G, Sheldon Dries G/2A, Markus Lauridsen G/A, GWG; Adam Wilcox 32sv, win (GB).
Tale of the Tape
Ice (8-4-2, t4th USHL East)
Head coach: Kyle Wallack
GF: 53 (3rd). GA: 41 (t5th)
PP: 32.1% (1st). PK: 87.0 % (4th) PIM: 321 (15th)
OT record: 1-1 SO record: 1-1
Road record: 5-2-1
Leading scorers: Daniil Tarasov (9-11-20), Jacob Fallon (7-8-15), Robbie Baillargeon (6-7-13, 6-game scoring streak), Sean Kuraly (4-8-12).
Leading +/-: Alex Barron (+8), Daniil Tarasov (+7)
Leading PIM: Woody Hudson (51, will not dress), Daniil Tarasov (43), R.J. Boyd (43)
Leading goaltender: Jon Gillies (7-3-2, 2.44 GAA, .913sv%, 1 SHO), Dalton Izyk (1-1-0, 3.76 GAA, .881 sv%)
Last 5: 1-2-2. Last 10: 4-4-2
11/19: at Waterloo (L 2-4)
11/18: at Cedar Rapids (SOW 3-2)
11/12: vs. Muskegon (L 4-5)
11/11: vs. Green Bay (OTL 4-5)
11/5: at Youngstown (SOL 3-4)
Gamblers (12-3-0, 1st USHL East)
Head coach: Derek Lalonde
GF: 59 (1st). GA: 33 (1st)
PP: 22.4% (4th). PK: 91.1% (1st). PIM: 225 (5th)
OT record: 1-0 SO record: 0-0
Home record: 3-2-0
Leading scorers: Nolan LaPorte (9-7-16), Kyle Novak (6-10-16), Alex Broadhurst (8-4-12), Markus
Leading +/-: Markus Lauridsen (+15), Nolan LaPorte (+10)
Leading PIM: Sheldon Drees (26), Dakota Mermis (26).
Leading goaltender: Ryan McKay (5-1-0, 1.67 GAA, .934sv%), Michael Rotolo (0-0-0, 4.41 GAA, .909sv%)
Last 5: 5-0-0. Last 10: 8-0-2
Ice next 5 games
11/25: vs. Sioux City
11/26: vs. Fargo
12/2: vs. Sioux Falls
12/3: vs. Green Bay
12/4: vs. Green Bay