Lafayette, Louisiana--The Louisiana IceGators seem to have learned how to take and maintain an early lead. The IceGators, who for most of the season have relied on late game comebacks, scored three consecutive goals against the Fayetteville FireAntz and never looked back as they skated to a 3-2 victory. Robert Short led the team with a goal and an assist.
The IceGators (16-8-1) will travel to Southaven, Mississippi, Tuesday for a game against the Mississippi RiverKings (13-13-3). Game time is 7:05 P. M.
"That's hockey!" exclaimed IceGator Coach Kevin Kaminski. "Both teams put on a show for the crowd," he said. "The goaltending was spectacular. There were great goals, great fights, and great play all around."
"You can see why (the FireAntz) are in first place," Kaminski added. "I give my guys a lot of credit. They played extremely well. They stuck to the game plan. They showed outstanding work ethic, and they sacrificed their bodies for the win."
Fayetteville (17-9-1) drew first blood at 4:30 in the first period on a Bobby Reed goal. The IceGators struck back when Short scored later in the frame. They carried their momentum into the second period. Jeremy Boyer picked up his second goal of the weekend four minutes into the period to give Louisiana a one-goal lead. Shawn McNeil tacked on another goal later in the period to make the score 3-1. Josh McQuade cut the Fayetteville's deficit to one on a powerplay goal early in the third period. The FireAntz attempted a late offensive flurry, but it was to no avail.
Kaminski praised the line featuring Short, Boyer, and Matt Robertson for their efforts this weekend. "That line is finding a way to score every night," he said. "Boyer gave us us two goals and two assists this weekend. Robertson and Short have also stepped up to help our offense. They've won championships and they know what it takes to win."
Kaminski also credited his defense for carrying the team to victory. "Our defense played really well," he said. "We've corrected most of our problems, and the guys are sacrificing their bodies to win. These were our two stingiest games of the year."
The statistics from this weekend back up his point. The IceGators held Fayetteville to 24 shots tonight and to a total of 49 shots on the weekend. The FireAntz were averaging 32 shots per game entering the weekend. Furthermore, the IceGators penalty kill was effective again, stopping two of the Fayetteville's three powerplays.
For Kaminski, winning never gets old. "Obviously, it's a good feeling," he says. "Our goal all week was to complete the sweep. Accomplishing that goal has to give our guys more confidence in themselves and in our plan." He added, "We talked about our identity today--the grease and grit, the dedication, the relentless work ethic. We displayed that identity tonight. Everyone can accomplish a lot when they're on the same page."