IceGators Beat RiverKings In Record-Breaking Shootout
LAFAYETTE, La.--The Louisiana IceGators and Mississippi RiverKings game last night resembled an old-school heavyweight championship match.
Both sides offered strong defense throughout the game and, despite multiple opportunities for each team to put their opponent away, couldn’t capitalize on golden chances to score the knockout blow.
And in true championship fight fashion, the IceGators and RiverKings battle through 15 rounds of a shootout before a winner was crowned.
The IceGators walked away as the last team standing, outscoring the RiverKings 4-3 in the extended shootout to break the scoreless tie and take the victory. Jeremy Boyer scored the first and last goals for the IceGators in the shootout. The shootout also set a new SPHL record for longest shootout, topping a 12-round tiebreaker won by the Pensacola IceFlyers over the Louisiana IceGators on January 25, 2013. Goalie Brad Barone's 11 consecutive saves in the shootout broke the league record for stops in a tiebreaker.
Coincidentally, the IceGators and the IceFlyers will meet today in the Cajundome for a Sunday showdown. Game time is set for 3:05 p.m.
“This was our best defensive performance of the year,” IceGators head coach Drew Omicioli said. “Barone played spectacularly. Our defense did a good job keeping the puck out of the crease and allowed him to see the shots coming his way. Our penalty kill was phenomenal, and our power play moved the puck well. We had opportunities, but we again gripped our sticks too tight. (Mississippi goaltender Garrett) Sheehan played a phenomenal game and made some key saves tonight, but Brad stole the show in the shootout. That was the best goaltending game I’ve seen in a long time.”
“The goaltending in this league--as you can tell by how our goalies are doing in the ECHL--are playing at an advanced level. The goaltending in the league has jumped tremendously since last year. Every game is going to be a grind because of that.”
Both Barone and Sheehan were indeed outstanding, stopping a combined 73 shots between them in regulation and overtime. Barone took a pounding in the first and third periods, as the RiverKings fired 15 and 16 shots on him in those frames, respectively. Sheehan was saved by the IceGators’ inability to pull the trigger on a number of open looks.
“I think we’re passing up grade-A scoring opportunities,” Omicioli said. “We’re trying to move the puck too much some times. It’s a work in progress. We have some guys that are not used to the professional level of power play time. We just have to build their confidence so they don’t hesitate and so they take their shots.
The teams went tit-for-tat in the first five rounds of overtime, forcing extra penalty shots. At one point, the officials stopped the shootout to discuss when the teams would be allowed to begin a second cycle through their line-ups. Ultimately, the veteran Boyer scored the game-clinching goal.
"I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The heart and soul of this team is Number 39,” Omicioli said, referring to Boyer. “Jeremy is a clutch performer every night. ”
Omicioli admits that as nice as this win feels, he and the team must come off Cloud Nine and focus on today’s rematch against Pensacola.
“We played good hockey against Pensacola (Friday night) and weren’t rewarded,” Omicioli said. “Getting this win gets the team’s morale up and gets the fans’ morale up. We owe Pensacola. They’ve had our number, but we’re going to play physical against them and bring it to them.”