Ice Flyers Rally In Third Period To Stay Unbeaten At Home On Rally Gulf Coast Night

December 3, 2023

The celebratory chants were a little louder inside the home team locker room. The music played a lot longer, too.

The Ice Flyers’ latest home ice win Saturday night became the best one.

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Trailing 2-0 with less than 14 minutes remaining, the response was an extra gear, big saves and a clutch power-play goal by Dallas Comeau with 1:47 remaining that lifted the Ice Flyers to a gratifying 3-2 victory against the Peoria Rivermen to sweep the two-game series at the Pensacola Bay Center.

“They are obviously huge rivals, and it was awesome seeing the resiliency of this group,” Comeau said. “When we come together, we can make mountains move and it was awesome.”

The Ice Flyers (11-5-0) are now 8-0 at home after the win on Rally Foundation Night to benefit Rally Gulf Coast. The Ice Flyers, who wore specialty Rally Foundation uniforms, won’t play at the Bay Center again until two days before Christmas, but it’s been a joyous holiday-like time at home so far for this team.

They turned a lull into an energized crowd roar Saturday, especially after Nick Leitner’s tying goal with 6:44 remaining was followed by the furious final minutes.

“It was amazing,” said Ice Flyers goaltender Stephen Mundinger, who stopped 28 of 30 shots. “Probably one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of, as far as I can remember.

“Just after every goal, if you saw me, I was going nuts. It’s why we play the game, right? Stuff like this is worth all the memories. This was definitely special.”

Mundinger was definitely special Saturday. After Peoria (8-4-1) scored two first period goals in the final three minutes, both after turnovers in the Ice Flyers zone, he made huge saves in the second period, then in the third to keep the score as it was and help enable the comeback to happen.

“Second period we were just holding on for dear life,” said Ice Flyers coach Gary Graham. “Thank God, Dinger played a great game. He really gave us a chance. I really thought he should have been number one star, because without him making some big saves… in second period if that thing gets down 3-0 it could be curtains.

“I thought that was our worst period of the season. They took our confidence away from us in the second period.”
But the Ice Flyers got it back and the crowd into the action when Sean Gulka pounced on a loose puck in the crease area and chipped it up into the net to cut the deficit.

“That was the ice breaker we needed,” Comeau said.

Earlier in the game, Gulka brawled with Peoria’s Tristan Trudel, son of Peoria head coach Jean-Guy Trudel.

“I thought that really got (Rivermen) fired up,” Graham said.

Gulka’s goal was followed by linemate Leitner’s tying goal.

“That line was huge,” Graham said. “They played bull in a China shop hockey, because it’s a big line for us and two of our biggest wingers are on that line.”

With 2:51 remaining, Peoria was whistled for a delay of game penalty, giving the Ice Flyers only their second power play of the game. This time, they struck gold.

“A big face off win by Mitchy (Mitch Atkins) and nice shot by Zac (Herrmann) and I just got loose in position on that power play and was able to find the back of the net (on rebound),” Comeau said. “It was just electric in there (Bay Center). It was awesome in the third period. I was only a small piece of it.”

The Ice Flyers now have a 21-day gap between home games. Their next home game is Dec. 23 against Macon.

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In the first intermission, Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris helped raise thousands for Rally Foundation by showing off his own hockey skills. After easily converting goals from the red line, Harris went to the other end, took off his shoes and went barefoot on the ice to send pucks end to end into the net.

Joining him were long time Ice Flyers sponsor Troy Rafferty, part of the Levin Papantonio Raffery Law Firm and Capt. Terrance Shashaty, commanding officer of Naval Air Station-Pensacola.

WHO: Ice Flyers vs. Quad City Storm
WHEN: Friday and Saturday (Dec 8-9), 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Vibrant Arena, Moline, Illinois.


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