Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ice go OT for win

The Indiana Ice have had a penchant for giving the customers free hockey the last few nights.

For the third time in four games, the Ice went overtime Wednesday night at Muskegon. Sean Kuraly's unassisted goal with 14 seconds left in the extra session gave the Ice a 3-2 victory in the L.C. Walker Arena.

Kuraly's game-winner was his 16th of the year. 

The victory -- coupled with Dubuque's loss to Green Bay and Youngstown's shootout loss to Cedar Rapids -- moved the Ice past Dubuque and into a second-place tie in the USHL Eastern Conference with Youngstown with 34 points. Dubuque is in fourth with 33 points.

The Ice and Youngstown won't wait long to settle their second-place deadlock -- they play two games in Indianapolis this weekend -- at Pepsi Coliseum Friday and at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday.

These two teams were meeting for the second straight game, and for the second straight game, Muskegon rallied from a third-period deficit to force overtime.

The Ice's league-best power play got going on its second opportunity in the first period, when Robbie Baillargeon cashed in, assisted by Ryan Obuchowski and Jacob Fallon with 4:21 left in the opening frame. It was Baillargeon's 11th goal of the year and his sixth consecutive game with a point.

Captain Alex Barron scored his third of the season unassisted at 2:59 of the second to give the Ice a 2-0 lead. The Ice dominated the opening two periods -- outshooting Muskegon 25-11 in the first 40 minutes, including 17-7 in the middle period -- but Muskegon's John Keeney was able to keep the puck out of his net the rest of the period after Barron's early goal, including killing off three Ice power plays in the middle of the frame.

Muskegon rallied in the third when Dakota Kletcha scored on the power play at 4:55 of the third. Each team got a power play in the ensuing minutes, but couldn't cash in. Mark Yanis scored at 12:26 of the third to tie it, and then Muskegon got its sixth power play of the night moments thereafter. But Jon Gillies and the Ice defense kept the net clean, allowing the game to go to OT, where Kuraly's heroics gave the Ice another extra-session victory.

The Ice dominated the OT, outshooting Muskegon 7-2 in the session and 46-25 for the game. Keeney made 43 saves, Gillies made 23.

Three stars
1. Sean Kuraly (Ice), GWG, +1, 8 shots
2. John Keeney (Mus), 43 saves, 3 GA
3. Mark Yanis (Mus), GTG in 3rd period

USHL boxscore

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