INDIANAPOLIS (IndianaIce.com) - It is early in the USHL season---but the winners of three-of-last-four Clark Cup Championships, the Indiana Ice and Green Bay Gamblers, squared off at Banker Life Fieldhouse in uncharted territory. Both squads faced off Friday evening looking up from bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Behind a 37-save effort from goaltender Dalton Izyk, the Ice broke a six-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the defending USHL champions.
Indy was able to put their early season struggles behind them while enjoying home ice for only the fifth time in their opening 15 contests. A disciplined effort enabled Indiana to come out on the winning end after 13 of their games have been decided by one or two goals.
"We stayed out of the penalty box and did not hurt ourselves," commented forward Austin Ortega after scoring the game-winner in the second period. "That was the key factor tonight."
Ortega buried his eight goal of the season six seconds after the Ice finished a shot-less power play opportunity in the middle stanza. Ortega became the team's goal scoring leader and was assisted by Tyler Pham at 11:56 of the second period.
"Tyler put a shot on net and it popped out to an open spot," stated Ortega. "I just shot it at the five-hole."
Izyk made the 2-1 lead stand up in a scoreless third period and referred to advice he learned from long-time Michigan Wolverine head coach Red Berenson.
"You make the saves you are supposed to make and every once in a while you made the hard ones."
It took less than a minute for the hosts to get on the board after the opening puck drop. Zach Aman beat the butterfly block attempt of Green Bay goaltender Mike Rotolo 52 seconds into the first period. His shot leaked through the goalie's pads notching his second goal of the season.
The Gamblers answered the Indy goal 5:50 before the first intermission when Nick Schmaltz whistled a wrist shot past Izyk. The Indiana defense and Izyk shut the door the rest of the evening.
The Ice return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a Sunday matinee with the Chicago Steel. The puck drops at 3:05.