Dayton, OH-Knowing that their opponents came into tonight’s game having lost three-straight, the Dayton Gems were on a mission to keep the losing streak going for the Evansville IceMen and extend their own streak to two-straight wins at home. Once again it was David Wilson starting in net for the IceMen and why not, Wilson shutout the Gems one week ago (November 25th) with an impressive 39-save effort. Dayton switched up their goaltending situation as Derek MacIntyre got the call for his fourth start of the season (Jeff Jakaitis played in the game on November 25th).
The first period was all about the goaltending on both ends until Evansville broke the scoreless tie at the 18:15 mark when Brian Bicek bounced the puck off of Gems defenseman Matt McCue’s blade up over Macintyre’s stick and into the net. That would be the lone goal of the opening frame and the Gems trailed for only the fourth time this season after one period.
Evansville expanded the lead to 2-0 within the first two minutes of the second when leading scorer Nicklas Lindberg found himself wide open in the slot and wristed one into a gaping net. The Gems cut the lead to one at the 13:19 mark when Chris Lipsett deflected a shot from Tysen Dowzak that came from just inside the blue line as Lipsett was cutting towards the net. Moments later, Lipsett almost tied the game, but Wilson made an NHL-caliber glove save stopping Lipsett on a breakaway attempt. For the second period in-a-row, the IceMen beat MacIntyre with under two minutes left as it would be Lindberg’s second of the night when his shot went off of a Gem on the way in towards MacIntyre to give Evansville a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
No one in the building could predict what would then transpire once the third period got under way. Rookie defenseman Nick Canzanello quickly cut into the Evansville lead when he roofed home a perfect shot from the left-wing circle to make it 3-2 at just the 1:34 mark. Newest Gem Matt Larke recorded his first goal as a Gem tying the game at 3-3 on the power play by schooling an IceMen defender and drove the puck right on past him (the defender) and through Wilson’s net at the 13:49 mark. As the period went on, both Wilson and MacIntyre made unbelievable saves in the waning minutes to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, MacIntyre would literally save the game for the Gems within the first 20 seconds of overtime as he stretched his pads from post-to-post to make a critical toe-save denying the IceMen the game-winning-goal. On the ensuing play following the save, Mike Vaskivuo and Chris Lipsett had a 2-on-2 back the other way. Vaskivuo threw the puck up towards the net and Lipsett driving the net as hard as possible, put himself in the position to have the puck deflect in off of his right skate and into the IceMen goal for the game-winner. After the IceMen insisted the goal should be disallowed because Lipsett was making a kicking motion, the officials conferred and determined that it was a re-direction not a kick giving the Gems the 4-3 win.
With the victory, the Gems improve to 10-5-1 on the season overall and a very sound 7-3-1 on home ice. These two teams will lace them up again tomorrow night in Evansville at the Swonder Ice Arena at 8:35 p.m. EST. The Gems are 1-1 at Swonder this season but the IceMen have lost their last three on home ice. This will be the sixth meeting between the two teams already this season with the Gems holding the edge in the series at 3-2.