CINCINNATI, Oh. - With a roster weakened by a flu bug working its way through the dressing room, the Elmira Jackals fought valiantly for an overtime point on Saturday night in Cincinnati. The Cyclones won by a final of 5-4 and Elmira's record dropped to 9-12-3.
Click here for tonight's box score.
The Jackals learned prior to the game that they would be without leading scorer Jakub Culek and starting goaltender Maxime Clermont who were too stricken with the flu to skate. Troy Rutkowski dressed, but couldn't continue after the first period due to his own illness.
Clermont's absence pushed former emergency backup Russ Stein into action. Stein hadn't seen the ice since early November as a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League's Peoria Rivermen.
One night prior the Cyclones got the drop on the Jackals in the first period and never looked back in a 5-0 win. This time around the Jackals flipped the script and tallied the first two goals of the game to open up the lead. Danny Hobbs battled for control of a rebound on the doorstep and slammed home his eighth goal of the season at 9:15. Rob Bellamy took the shot from the right wing that allowed Hobbs to pot the marker. Matt Carter followed that with his second power play goal of the season, sixth overall, at 14:17 as the Jackals doubled their lead. Stein made some strong saves in his first start, including an early breakaway by Anthony Luciani, but Jack Combs squeaked a wrist shot under the cross bar with 1:21 to play to cut Elmira's lead in half.
Cincinnati ratcheted up the pressure in the second to the tune of 14 shots but Stein was at his best then and kept the Jackals in front. The pressure was particularly high early in the period when the Jackals had to kill off back-to-back Cincinnati power plays. Stein made his best save, an acrobatic, diving glove save on Jack Combs, to preserve the lead. Elmira tested Joe Howe with 10 shots of their own but couldn't convert and took the one-goal lead into the third.
Just over three minutes into the final frame Jordan Pietrus converted a 2-on-1 to build Elmira's lead back to two. But Barry Almeida scored a pinball-style goal 1:03 after Pietrus to pull the Cyclones back within one. Then, on a 2-on-2 bid, Jonathan Hazen slipped a shot through a screen and under Stein to tie the score. The game took a dramatic turn with 5:37 to play when Cincinnati's Tony Turgeon delivered an illegal check to the head of Mathieu Gagnon. The Jackals' reclaimed the lead on Ludwig Karlsson's power play goal 12 seconds into the advantage, but then they got themselves into penalty trouble. With the teams skating four-on-four Howe was pulled for the extra attacker and Logan Shaw scored unassisted to tie the game with 1:47 to play and force overtime.
In the extra session the Cyclones capitalized on an attack-zone faceoff after a Jackals icing infraction and scored the winning goal. David MacDonald blistered home a snap shot directly off of Shaw's draw win.
Stein made 31 saves for the Jackals in his ECHL debut. Elmira ended the night 2-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals return to home ice on Thursday, December 26 to take on the Reading Royals. You don't want to miss the world famous ZOOperstars! who will be performing live during the intermission! Don't forget that groups of 10 or more who book in advance receive discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability. Call 607-734-7825 to get your group outing booked.