Written by David Cheung
JACKSONVILLE, FL – Jacksonville Icemen forward Abbott Girduckis was the hero on Saturday night, scoring a hattrick to lead the Jacksonville Icemen to a 4-1 victory over the first place Florida Everblades on Day 2 of Youth Sports Weekend.
Just four minutes in after an innocuous whistle, Jacob Friend finds himself in a fight against Florida’s Michael Downing and throws several haymakers including the knockout punch. There were a few chances both ways, with Jake Elmer having the best chance early on after he found himself wide open in the slot but could not convert. The highlight of the period came at the 13:53 mark of the periodwhen Charles Williams was run into by the Florida attackers. Whilst some pushing and shoving ensued from the incident and Williams stayed down, Derek Lodermeier somehow found himself a breakaway, and despite Florida’s Devin Cooley getting a piece of the puck, it managed to roll past him and into the net for a 1-0 Icemen lead.
The second period started with penalties both ways, but both teams’ penalty kill units came out strong. Williams and Cooley both made some timely saves to keep their teams in it, but there was only so much the Florida goalie could do when the Icemen found themselves with a 3-on-2 rush just as a Jacksonville penalty was expiring. Carrying the puck down the left-wing boards, Wacey Rabbit fed it to the trailer Jason Binkley in the middle, who found Abbott Girduckis cutting in from the right. Girduckis’ first shot was stopped, but Cooley stood no chance on the rebound as Girduckis puts it home for his 4th of the season, giving the Icemen a 2-0 lead.
The Florida Everblades looked energized coming out for the 3rd period. After some good shifts of offensive zone time, Florida’s Jordan Sambrook fired home a one-timer from the blue line past Williams to cut the deficit to 2-1. With the Icemen seemingly stuck in their own zone, Williams continued his hot play of late by making several key saves down low.
The Icemen would catch a break eventually – Florida’s Alex Kile is whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Icemen’s powerplay unit went to work. Trevor Hamilton fired a point shot that was saved by Florida’s Cooley, but the rebound popped right out to Girduckis at the left side circle who roofed it for his second goal of the night. Girduckis was not done yet though – after a great individual effort by Wacey Rabbit to retrieve the puck on his own dump-in, he found Girduckis cruising into the slot who squeaks the puck past Cooley to secure the hat-trick and the win for the Icemen.
The Icemen close out Youth Sports Weekend and the fourth game of a mini-series with the Everblades on Sunday, April 11.