Dec 27, 2013 11:40 PM by IceGators Media Relations
Lafayette, La.--The Louisiana IceGators came out of their funk Friday night.
After dropping three straight games during last weekend's road trip, the IceGators returned to form with a 5-0 victory over the Mississippi Surge.
Goalie Kiefer Smiley recorded his third shutout of the season by stopping all 24 of the Surge's shots.
The IceGators (15-7-2) host the Mississippi RiverKings Saturday night in the Cajundome. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m.
"That was our best 60 minutes of the year," said IceGators coach Kevin Kaminski. "We played solid defensively and took care of our own zone. We had great energy. Guys got on the forecheck and created turnovers. We capitalized on our chances when we created those turnovers.
Kaminski says Smiley got a good bit of help from his teammates and from the goalposts.
"I didn't think we gave up a whole heck of a lot, but when we did, Kiefer made big saves for us," Kaminski said. "The post and the crossbar were his friends tonight. All in all, he played a good, simple game. He let the puck hit him, and his defense came in and helped him out."
Louisiana pounced on the Surge early and often.
Adam Stuart tipped in a Jake Trask shot at the 8:52 mark of the first period to put the IceGators ahead 1-0. Shawn McNeil also assisted on the play.
Mitchell Stretch added another goal at the 11:54 mark by shooting off a centering pass from Matt Robertson. McNeil picked up his second assist of the night on the play.
Tyler Bar scored his second goal of the season 70 seconds later on a nearly identical play, shooting off a Harry Mahesh centering pass from behind the net. Bret Peppler was also credited with an assist.
The IceGators tacked on two insurance goals in the second period.
Jeff Grant made the score 4-0 when he tipped in a Shawn McNeil shot at the 12:22 mark.
Jake Trask added another goal four minutes later when he shot from the slot off a Kirk Byczynski feed. Stuart also assisted on the play.
Kaminski says his team came into the game energized thanks to a break for Christmas.
"Last weekend, we went through our lulls," Kaminski said. "I told the guys that even though we lost three in a row, we were still in first place. I told them to take a break, enjoy their Christmas, and have a little fun.
"When they came to practice (Thursday), they were having fun. It was the most I heard them talk. Obviously it carried over into tonight.
Kaminski says his team understands what's at stake Saturday night.
"We can gain some big ground on both the RiverKings and Pensacola," Kaminski said. "Everybody has to come to the rink with a great attitude and ready to go to war for each other. There should be no excuse not to crank up the energy for tomorrow."