A week after they were both honored by the USHL, the Indiana Ice entered tonight's game without top scorer Sean Kuraly or goaltender Jon Gillies in the lineup. Neither was top-line center Jacob Fallon.
No matter. The Ice won their fourth straight game and extended their streak to 7-0-2 with a 3-2 victory at Waterloo Friday night.
As has been their characteristic during the streak, the Ice built a big lead en route to the victory.
The Ice played without hot-scoring winger Sean Kuraly, who was not in the lineup tonight.
Christian Hilbrich opened the scoring with 5:24 left in the first, assisted by Drew Smolcynski, to give the Ice a 1-0 lead in a close-to-the-vest game. It was Hilbrich's eighth goal of the year, and his first in six games.
The Ice scored two second-period insurance goals, and they would turn out to be critical later on. Emil Romig scored his fourth of the year -- and his second in three games -- with 6:21 left in the second. Defenseman Matthew Krug scored his first USHL goal exactly four minutes later. Daniil Tarasov, the Ice's leading scorer, had the first assist on both goals, giving him five points in the last three games.
Ice goaltender Dalton Izyk -- making his first start since Nov. 25 -- held the fort down. He made 20 stops in the first two periods to hold the Black Hawks off the board. Waterloo's Vince Hinostroza and Mitch Witek scored 12 seconds apart midway through the third and then the Ice went shorthanded due to a penalty on John Doherty but Gillies held the Black Hawks off the scoreboard for the final 12 minutes to seal the victory.
The Ice's penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5. Izyk made 27 saves in the victory, giving him a USHL-best 17 for the year.
The Ice are now 18-7-4 and in second place in the USHL Eastern Conference (and in the entire league) with 40 points -- two ahead of third-place Youngstown and four ahead of fourth-place Dubuque. Green Bay leads the chase for the Anderson Cup with 47 points, but the Ice have been closing in over the last nine games.
The Ice return home Saturday to face Youngstown at the Pepsi Coliseum. The Ice swept two meetings against the Phantoms last week in Indianapolis, outscoring them 8-2 along the way.
Also of note: Cam Lerner was suited up as the backup goaltender to Izyk, making his Ice debut.
3 stars (as chosen by the Waterloo staff)
1. Vince Hinostroza (Wat): goal, assist
2. Eddie Witchow (Wat)
3. Max Edison (Wat): assist
Of course, a neutral 3 stars selection would likely have included -- at the very least, Izyk (27 saves, win) and Tarasov (2 assists, +2).
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier story