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Hitmen Empire Winning Streak Halted at Five

By Brack Healy, 12/15/14, 11:30PM EST


As hot as the Empire team was, it took an incorrectly applied rule to stop the Hitmen in their tracks.

With what should have been a shootout win over the Jersey Shore Whalers, turned into the first loss in the past six games for the Empire squad. Kyle Hallbauer slid a forehand shot underneath the Whalers goalie who appeared to get a piece of it. The official quickly signaled no goal but as he was waving it off the puck re-appeared from under the goalie and rolled slowly into the net. The official and linesman held a brief conference but eventually upheld the original no goal call.

The Hitmen trailed 2-0 after one and had to battle their way back. Phil Garcia continued to build on his goal total with his 12th of the season only 57 seconds into the second frame. Hallbauer would tie it at two with 12 minutes left in the third with a nifty deke after beating two Whalers’ defenders.

Ross Mantione was spectacular in net, turning aside 29 shots and stopping five of six in the shootout. His goaltending has been key during the Hitmen’s 5-1 stretch in the past six games.

The Empire team recently completed a 4-0 sweep against the Frederick Freeze. The Hitmen continue to play suffocating defense, allowing only 2.5 goals a game while scoring 3.7 per contest.