December 31, 2002

Kingfish fall in shootout, 3-2
Baton Rouge Kingfish Press Release

The Kingfish surrendered two goals in the final minute allowing the IceGators to send the game to overtime where they tallied the only goal in the shootout for the 3-2 victory.

Neither team could get on the board in a very fast opening period highlighted by a handful of stoppages in play and solid goaltending at both ends of the ice.

Jason Norrie picked up a loose puck in the slot and flipped it over Kyle Kettles for the first goal of the game at the 8:01 mark of the first period of play. Kettles made the original save but couldnít come up with the rebound and it slipped out of a pile in front of the net right to Norrie. Trevor Demmand and Tom Kaiman added the assists on the goal.

Joe Guenther gave the Kingfish a 2-0 lead at the 14:31 mark of the third period as he took a centering pass from Clark Jones off a 2-on-1 break.

Louisiana cut the Kingfish lead to one as Cal Benazic beat rookie netminder Niklas Sundberg over the glove with just 51 seconds remaining in the contest. Kenny Corupe and Bruce Richardson added the assists as Cloutier was pulled in favor of an extra attacker.

The Ice Gators tied the game up at two as Benazic added his second of the night with just 28 seconds remaining in the third to send the game to overtime as he beat Sundberg over the shoulder and the puck just found its way inside the post. Bruce Richardson again added an assist.

Neither team could score in the overtime session and Frederic Cloutier stopped all five Kingfish shooters for the win. Shawn McNeil tallied the only goal for the Ice Gators in the shootout for win.

The Kingfish are back in action on Friday when they host the Pensacola Ice Pilots at the Centroplex at 7:05 p.m. Catch all the action on Baton Rougeís Best R & B, 104.5 WZRB beginning with the Kingfish pregame show at 6:50 p.m.

Benazic, McNeil ignite comeback as IceGators ring out 2002 the right way
Louisiana Ice Gators Press Release

Lafayette, LA Ė Cal Benazic scored twice in the final 51.5 seconds of regulation, Shawn McNeil got the shootoutís only goal and Frederic Cloutier made 34 saves as the Louisiana IceGators extended their winning streak to five games with a thrilling 3-2 New Yearís Eve victory over the Baton Rouge Kingfish at the Cajundome. Bruce Richardson had two assists for the IceGators, who claimed first place overall in the East Coast Hockey League with 49 points.

Niklas Sundberg was awesome in net, making 36 saves in his first game for Baton Rouge, which skated with just 13 players due to injury and fell to 0-2-4 in its last six games. Jason Norrie and Mike Guenther each scored for the Kingfish.

Benazicís first of the game, with 51.5 seconds left, came with Cloutier pulled and after constant pressure. Kenny Corupe slid a pass back to Benazic at the right point, and the defensemanís one-timer through a screen beat Sundberg.

With the Cajundome crowd on its feet, Benazic scored his 10th of the season with 28.2 seconds remaining. Richardson won the draw back to Benazic, whose shot from the blueline once again got by Sundberg.

The IceGators outshot Baton Rouge 7-3 in overtime, but couldnít put across the game-winner. Sundberg juggled Daniel Goneauís fiery one-timer from the left point and hung on at the 2:16 mark.

The Kingfish had several chances late in overtime following an unsportsmanlike penalty call on Nathan Rempel. In a span of 35 seconds, Cloutier stopped Bryan Richardson and Trevor Demmans from the point, then Richardson again from the bottom of the left circle. With seven seconds left, Mathieu had a partial breakaway, but Cloutier spread his pads to kick away the puck.

McNeil was the only player to score in the shootout, getting a tally in the third round. Cloutier stopped Mike Oliveira, Mike Kiesman, Sam Paquet, Marquis Mathieu and Joe Guenther.

Both teams came out with a lot of energy in a first period that saw a lot of action but no scoring. The IceGators were outshot 13-8, but Cloutier was perfect. Sundberg got lucky when a shot went wide on a 2-on-1 by Goneau and Bruce Richardson.

The IceGators had the first five shots of the second period, aided by 52 seconds of a power play. At the 2:06 mark, Goneau took a cross-ice pass from Richardson in the slot and ripped a one-timer that Sundberg got a piece of with his glove. Seconds later, Shawn Skiehar redirected a shot just wide.

A flurry of activity in front of the IceGators net led to the gameís first goal, as Norrie lit the lamp for the Kingfish with 8:01 gone in the second period. Cloutier made three saves from close range, but Norrie Ė who just seconds earlier had an attempt from the low slot stopped Ė popped the rebound over Cloutier for his 14th goal of the season on the teamís 17th shot of the game.

Bruce Richardson had a shot through a screen from the high slot with just more than five minutes left in the second on the power play, but Sundberg swallowed the shot. Seconds later, he kicked aside Benazicís one-timer from the point. Louisiana had no fewer than three other chances on that man advantage, holding the puck in the zone for the entire two minutes. Just as the power-play expired, Goneau had a shot from the lower right circle that Sundberg somehow got a piece of and covered up.

The IceGators outshot Baton Rouge 15-12 in the second, including seven shots on the power play, but Sunderg let none by.

Louisiana had the only shot in the first eight minutes of a third period that began very slowly. The IceGators had to kill off two power plays in the first seven minutes, and another with 8:14 left, stunting a possible comeback until Benazicís heroics. Each team finished the third period with eight shots.

Baton Rouge went up 2-0 with 5:29 left when Guenther finished off a nifty 2-on-1 with Clark Jones.

Sundberg, an NCAA Division III SUNY Plattsburgh product, was assigned to the Kingfish by AHL Hartford yesterday due to injuries to both Brian Leitza and Jeff Blair. Sundberg, who played his eight prior pro games with ECHL Charlotte, was playing in his first game since December 13, a 6-3 loss against Reading. He had accumulated five shutouts in the past two seasons with Plattsburgh State. Sundberg was trying to become just the second goalie to ever shut out the IceGators at the Cajundome, joining the now retired Mike Tamburro, who accomplished the feat three times.

Louisiana finished 0-for-3 on the power play, while Baton Rouge was 0-for-6.

The IceGators improved to 5-2-1 all-time on New Yearís Eve home games.

Louisiana now has six extra attacker goals this season, not counting one that came on a delayed penalty call. Richardson had one, and McNeil the three others prior to tonight.

DATE - 12/31/02     Baton Rouge ( 2) AT Louisiana ( 3)  SO

Baton Rouge                0  1  1  0--2  
Louisiana                  0  0  2  1--3  

FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: None. Penalties: Shiryaev, LA (Roughing), 
6:34. Skiehar, LA (Interference), 12:06. Mathieu, BR (Interference), 

SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Baton Rouge-Norrie 14 (Demmans; Kaiman) 
8:01. Penalties: Tucker, BR (Hooking), 14:16. Goneau, LA (Roughing), 
16:21. Kaiman, BR (Roughing), 16:21. Mathieu, BR (Hooking), 18:53. 
Shiryaev, LA (Unsportsmanlike Cond), 20:00. Kaiman, BR 
(Unsportsmanlike Cond), 20:00. 

THIRD PERIOD -- Scoring: 2, Baton Rouge-Guenther 7 (Jones) 14:31. 3, 
Louisiana-Benazic 9 (Corupe; Richardson) 19:08. 4, Louisiana-Benazic 10 
(Richardson) 19:31. Penalties: Skiehar, LA (High sticking), 2:37. 
Boogaard, LA (Charging), 5:24. Goneau, LA (Slashing), 11:47. 

OVERTIME -- Scoring: None. Penalties: Rempel, LA (Unsportsmanlike Cond), 

Baton Rouge               13 12  8  3--36 
Louisiana                  8 15  8  7--38 

Power Play Conversions: Baton Rouge - 0 of 6, Louisiana - 0 of 3.
Goalies: Baton Rouge-Sundberg (38 shots, 36 saves; record: 0-0-1). 
Louisiana-Cloutier (36 shots, 34 saves; record: 16-5-4). 
A: 3603.  Referee: Thul. Linesmen: Jones; Sotak.

Game Story
LAFAYETTE, Louisiana (Ticker) -- Cal Benazic scored twice 
within the final minute of regulation and Shawn McNeil netted
the deciding shootout goal to help the Louisiana IceGators earn
a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Baton Rouge
Kingfish, 3-2. After Louisiana pulled its goaltender in favor of
an extra attacker, Benazic scored with 52 seconds left in the
contest and netted his 10th tally of the season 23 seconds later
to force overtime. After the IceGators saw all seven of their
shots in overtime fall short, McNeil recorded his third shootout
goal of the season on six attempts. Frederic Cloutier turned
away 31 shots in regulation, three in overtime and stopped all
five shootout attempts he faced for the win, Louisiana's fifth
straight. Jason Norrie opened the scoring eight minutes in the
second period and Joe Guenther gave Baton Rouge a 2-0 lead with
5:29 left in the third. Niklas Sundberg finished with 36 saves,
including seven in overtime, for the Kingfish, who are winless
in their last six.