After having not played in three weeks due to the break, the Aston Rebels resumed the second half of their season by scoring two goals in less then two minutes and 30 seconds into last night’s game as they defeated the visiting Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4 – 0.
The game started quickly for the Rebels. After winning the draw deep inside the Rebels zone, Evgeny Yakovlev passed the puck up quickly to Gianluca Esteves who brought the puck deep into the Ice Dogs zone. Esteves, who was at the far side boards, passed the puck back to Yakovlev behind Fairbanks’ net. Yakovlev tried a wrap around that was stopped by Ice Dogs goalie Josh Benson. However, the puck caromed off his pad and went straight out to the high slot to Brennan Kapcheck. Kapcheck picked up the rebound and took a backhanded shot that beat Benson high glove side to give the Rebels a 1 – 0 lead just forty one seconds into the first period. It was Kapcheck’s twelfth goal on the season.
Almost two minutes later the Ice Dogs were trying to break out of their zone after winning a neutral zone draw. Kapcheck intercepted the pass and brought the puck into the offensive zone. Dom Garcia picked up the puck as Kapcheck collided with a Fairbanks’ defender. Garcia had the wherewithal to look to his left as he was falling down and passed it to a wide open Drew Blackmun in the slot. Blackmun buried a shot past Benson to give the Rebels a 2 – 0 only two minutes and twenty five seconds into the game. It was Blackmun’s tenth goal of the season.
Despite the fast start, the extended hiatus off the rink took its toll on the Rebels. At moments the team looked like they did before the break by pressuring the Ice Dogs zone. At other times the team looked very rusty. Plus, Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart, whose team only has scored 83 goals on the season, installed a neutral zone trap to minimize the possible damage. And it worked.
After no scoring in the second, Esteves put the Rebels up 3 – 0 with 6:40 left in the game. Yakovlev was tied up at the blue line on the near side boards. He kicked the puck up to Aaron Maguyon. Maguyon quickly brought the puck up into the offensive zone on a two on one with Esteves. Maguyon sent a saucer pass to the high slot to Esteves who put a backhander between Benson’s legs for his tenth goal on the season.
With slightly less then three minutes left in the game, Stewart tried to kick start his team by pulling Benson for the extra attacker. While applying pressure in the Rebels zone, Ryan Solomon intercepted an Ice Dogs pass and he forwarded it up to Blackmun. Blackmun passed the puck Andrew Bellant on his left. Bellant sent a backhanded shot into an open net for his seventeenth goal on the season to give the Rebels a 4 – 0 with a minute left in the game.
Blackmun, Esteves, Kapcheck and Yakovlev each had two points while goalie Jack Leavy recorded his second shutout of the season by turning aside all 26 shots he faced. Benson stopped 16 of 19 shots. Click here for the box score.
The Rebels and defending NAHL champion Ice Dogs will complete this weekend series tonight at 7pm at the IceWorks Skating Complex.