Clarke, Surge blank Ice Gators

LAFAYETTE, LA – This past Friday, the Mississippi Surge once again headed west on I-10 to do battle with the Louisiana Ice Gators at the Cajundome (aka the “Frozen Swamp”). This time, the Surge did not need an overtime session to get the win as the visitors from Biloxi shut out the home team 4-0 in front of 2,347 fans.
The first period opened with the Surge firing off four shots at Ice Gators netminder Jesse Kallechy but not getting the puck past him. All that changed at the 4:40 mark when Surge winger Corey Tamblyn lit up the red light with assists going to defenseman Nicholas Kuqali and winger Tommy Lange.
Less than two minutes later, Kuqali was ushered to the sin bin on a minor slashing call. Then at the 7:05 point, tempers began to flare and there was a bit of pushing and shoving. Surge defenseman Matt Ridley joined Kuqali in the penalty box on a minor roughing call, giving the Ice Gators a golden opportunity with a 5-on-3 man advantage. Louisiana got only two shots at Surge netminder Dan Clarke and failed to take advantage of the two-man power play. Mississippi had one power play chance of its own when Louisiana‘s Eric Tallent went off for cross checking but the Surge failed to score.
The middle stanza belonged to Mississippi. The Surge increased their lead to 2-0 when at the 3:19 mark, winger Jeff Grant got the puck into the back of the Ice Gators net off an assist by fellow winger Tommy Lange. The Surge had back-to-back man advantage opportunities when Ice Gators Brett Liscomb (hooking at 5:20) and Kirk Byczynski (high sticking at 7:50) headed to the penalty box. The Surge were unable to score on either chance and lost a chunk of the second power play when defenseman James Isaacs was whistled for slashing at 8:47.
The ensuing four-on-four proved beneficial for the Surge as they once again lit the red light. at the 9:35 mark, winger Payden Benning and Kuqali combined to set up Lange for his sixth goal of the season. With 7:37 to go before the intermission, it appeared that the Ice Gators had spoiled the Surge’s bid for a shutout. However, referee Joshua Greco waved off the goal, much to the dislike of the Ice Gators faithful in attendance, ruling that the puck had hit the inside of the pipe without crossing the line.
The Surge made it 4-0 with six minutes left in the second when center Derek Graham blasted the puck by Kallechy in the Ice Gators net. The teams traded shots at each other’s goal for the remainder of the period with Mississippi holding a 14-8 edge and more importantly a four-goal lead.
The final period turned into a defensive struggle as the Surge wanted to record the shutout for Clarke while the Ice Gators didn’t want the margin to get any larger. Louisiana didn’t help itself any, taking a pair of penalties in the stanza, allowing Mississippi two more power plays. Thanks to a much tighter defense on the penalty kill, Louisiana allowed just two shots to the Surge’s special teams to keep the margin at four. Mississippi’s defense was just as tough, giving up a mere four shots all period long. As the final buzzer sounded, the Cajundome erupted into a chorus of booing as disgruntled fans tossed plastic gators onto the ice.
For the game, the Surge went 0-for-5 on the power play while the Ice Gators went 0-for-3 with the man advantage. In recording his first career shutout and earning first star, Clarke stopped all 18 shots he faced. Down the other end, Kallechy made 27 saves in suffering the loss for Louisiana. The Surge also swept the second and third stars of the game as Lange with three points earned the second star and Tamblyn was named third star.
The Surge will travel to Huntsville to do battle with the Havoc at the Von Braun Center on Thursday, November 30th. Face-off is set for 7:30 P.M.
Contact the author at pat.mcarthur@prohockeynews.com

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