EVANSVILLE, Ind. - The Elmira Jackals continued their pattern of playing successful come-from-behind hockey on Friday night with a 3-1 win over the Evansville IceMen at Ford Center. The win improved the Jackals' record to 17-22-5 on the season and 3-0-1 in their current five-game road trip.
Click here for tonight's box score.
The Jackals were intent on avoiding surrendering the first goal for the fourth game in a row on Friday, but the old quote about the best intentions of mice and men held true this time. Evansville was able to capitalize on a Jackals turnover at their own blueline and turn it into the first goal of the game. Ryan Flanigan stripped the puck just inside of the Elmira line and worked a pass down the wing to Daultan Leveille who had a wide-open lane to the net. Leveille lifted a backhand shot over the glove of Scott Greenham at 7:28 to put the IceMen in the driver's seat. Elmira doggedly worked for the tying goal and ended up with 14 shots on Evansville goalie Mike Clemente, but the second-year pro turned away all comers and Evansville took the lead into the second period.
While Elmira's offense rose up in the second period and produced the tying goal, it was the defense that stole the show. The Jackals limited the IceMen to just two shots on goal in the second and the first didn't come until just over 4:30 remained in the frame. On the offensive side, Elmira wasted little time drawing even. Nik Pokulok made a strong play to keep in an Evansville clearing attempt at the left point and then delivered the puck quickly to the net. Daniel Koger was camped out in front and deflected it past Clemente at 6:10 for his first goal as a Jackal. Minutes before Artem Demkov was alone in front for a good scoring chance but Clemente made a spectacular glove save to keep Evansville in the lead for the time being.
Elmira came in to Friday's game without a power play goal in its last 16 tries, and missed out on its first power play of the game. The Jackals second chance of the game, though, turned around their fortunes on the man advantage and gave them their first lead of the night. Koger worked the puck to the net out of the right-wing circle, had his first wrist shot stopped by Clemente, but pounced on the rebound for a backhander and lobbed it home for his second goal of the game. The goal came 4:09 into the third with assists to Jordan Pietrus and Troy Rutkowski. Elmira's lead was put in dire straits late in the third when Evansville was awarded 21 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play. The IceMen managed four shots on Greenham but he turned away each attempt and kept Elmira in the lead. Mike Vaskivuo added an empty-net goal with less than 30 seconds left to set the final.
Greenham was 18-for-19 on save opportunities and picked up his seventh win of the year. Elmira finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals return to home ice on Wednesday, February 12 to take on the Reading Royals. It's a Willowcreek Wednesday where some lucky fans will compete at first intermission to win free golf from Willowcreek Golf Club. 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.