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Empire Earns Split with IHC

By Brack Healy, 11/21/14, 11:45PM EST


The Empire team traveled up North and returned to Skate 3 this past weekend. Before the Hitmen could blink, they trailed 3-0 ten minutes in against a bolstered Islanders Hockey Club lineup. It wasn’t until the waning minutes of the second period that the Hitmen showed life. Riley Flynn scored two goals in a span of 34 seconds, the second coming with 1:02 left in the middle frame to cut the lead to 3-2. An unfortunate bounce at the offensive blue line led to a 2 on 1 for IHC, and more bad luck ensued as a centering pass careened off Stephen Bressi and past goalie Josh Welte to give IHC a 4-2 lead with 15 seconds left in the period.

Anthony Steffe would cut the lead to 4-3 just two minutes into the third, but that would be all the offense the Hitmen would muster as they eventually fell 6-3.

Sunday proved to be a better day for the boys in blue as they jumped ahead 1-0 only 2:46 into the game. Phil Garcia beat IHC goalie Justin Ferguson with a beautiful snap shot to put the Hitmen ahead. However, IHC twice in the final ten minutes of the first to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Phil Garcia answered the bell again as he tied the game on the power play only 5:48 into the second. IHC responded with a goal of their own with under 4 minutes to go in the second.

Garcia completed the hat trick with 8 minutes left in the third on a nifty end-to-end rush and beating Ferguson top shelf to tie the game at three. The Hitmen had to kill off a late IHC power play to get the game into overtime. Both teams traded chances but couldn’t convert so the game went to a shootout.

Goalie Ross Mantione stopped the first two shooters, and Garcia and Chris Brunner-Grande both scored to give the Hitmen the 4-3 shootout win.

The Empire team returns to action this weekend when they host the Frederick Freeze. The Hitmen are 10-6-1 in league play and are 23-9-2 overall.