On a day when the Red, White and Blue dominated the junior hockey world, it was the Indiana Ice who put the hurt on those colors with a 4-2 victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers from Pan Am Plaza.
Just 12 hours after watching former Icemen Sean Kuraly and Jon Gillies win gold in the 2013 World Junior Championships, Indy redeemed themselves following Friday night's dismal 4-1 loss to the same Des Moines squad.
Austin Ortega led the charge for the Ice with a goal and an assist while Woody Hudson, Brian Morgan and newcomer Mitch Hults also added markers on the night. Anderson Snair added another solid performance in only his third appearance with 23 saves on 25 shots.
An offense that was flat and stagnant the night before, exploded off the opening puck drop with three lamplighters in the first 10 mintues of the contest. The onslaught forced the Buccaneerrs to pull their starting goaltender, Billy Christopoulos, after getting beat by three of the first seven Ice bullets.
Hudson started the scoring parade a mere 22 seconds into the rematch when a rebound ricocheted off the goaltender's pads and onto his tape just outside the crease. The team captain then drove the puck home for his 13th goal of the season with Tyler Pham and Austin Hervey getting the helpers' credits.
Morgan followed suit at the 7:05 mark when the first-year center battled Christopoulos for his 16th goal of the season. The Windham, NH native has been a mainstay for the Indy offense in his rookie season, ranking second behind on the team behind lead-sniper Ortega in goals.
Making a name for the unfamiliar faces on the Ice roster was Mitch Hults, beating the Des Moines net-minder, glove-side in the first 10 minutes of his USHL career to give Indy a 3-0 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the opening stanza.
In as much as scoring defined the first period, physicality was the name of the game in the second as both teams continued their physical play on the ice. The Buccaneers faced almost seven consecutive minutes on the power play as a cross checking penalty by Garrett Cockerill piggybacked a five-minute major assessed to Des Moines's Willem Nong-Lambert for kneeing Drew Smolczynski in a violent hit at center ice. The incident also cost Nong-Lambert a game ejection.
Cockerill came out of the penalty box to end Snair's shutout attempt when a pass crossed into the low slot and onto the defenseman's tape, narrowing the gap to 3-1 in the closing minutes of the second period.
The Buccaneers began to pick up steam in the third period, outshooting the Ice 10-6 in the frame. Indy's lone goal on the period came when Ortega added to his already impressive goal pool with his 20th tally of the season on an open net.
Snair's play in the third continued to ice Des Moines right through the end of the third when Ali Thomas buried a puck from the slot to end the scoring at 4-2.
Catch the Ice on Friday, January 11 as they host the Green Bay Gamblers on Hoosier Lottery Night from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The game is set to begin at 7:05 pm.