Ice Hawks hit a wall in 3rd period

The Rochester Ice Hawks had a short bench for Saturday night's North American Tier 3 Hockey League game at Graham Arena.

Already skating with a thin roster, two of the team's top defensemen also missed Saturday's tilt against the Twin City Steel.

Despite being shorthanded, the Ice Hawks skated with the Steel for two full periods, heading to the final frame knotted at 2-all.

But the Ice Hawks hit a wall in the third period, allowing five unanswered goals to give the Steel a 7-2 win.

The Steel swept the two-game weekend series, leaving the Ice Hawks 0-2 so far during their inaugural season in the NA3HL.

The Ice Hawks, playing at Graham Arena due to delayed construction at the Rochester Recreation Center, still had many positives despite the Saturday setback.

Goalie Sam Nelson was phenomenal all weekend. Nelson had 40 saves through two periods on Saturday.

"He stood on his head," Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis said. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a better goalie at this level in the entire country. He's amazing. He kept us in it through two periods, but we just hit a complete wall in the third. We were playing with a short bench, forcing some guys out of position, and we were just out of gas in the third."

Trey McMillen picked up much of the defensive slack over the weekend.

"Trey was a warrior out there; he skated so many minutes, and he just plays so hard," Fatis said. "It's not ideal for him to be skating that many minutes, but down a few guys, he was the best option, and he handled it beautifully."

Fatis also was encouraged by the play of several of his young newcomers.

"All of our young guys, the 1999 (birth year) guys played very well for being so young," Fatis said.

"(Andrew) Gates was solid on Friday, and Alex Paulson blended right in Friday night. Same thing Saturday. Duell Buck was fantastic, too, just flying all over the place. He plays like he's 19. And Sam Bjellum also seemed to fit right in this weekend."

The Ice Hawks actually took an early two-goal lead Saturday night.

Jiri Trubacik lit the lamp just 6:08 into the game, and Dan Trageser followed that up with a tally at 9:01. Dominik Bogdzuil and Griffen Buck assisted on Trageser's tally.

Bogdzuil is another player who drew Fatis' praise.

"He struggled a little Friday, but in his defense, he didn't even know he was going to play when he arrived at the rink," Fatis said. "He's new to the team, but he fit right in. We moved him to wing on Saturday, and he looked great. I think he's going to be a great fit here."

The Steel pulled within 2-1 after a power-play goal late in the first period, and they tied it up just 1:23 into the second period. Still, the game went to the third tied 2-all.

The Steel needed just 25 seconds to score their first goal in the third. And they didn't let up until the clock stopped, scoring four more goals to pull away.

"We played well in spurts on Saturday, but we just didn't have anything left in us in the third period," Fatis said. "We've already brought a few new guys in here in the last few days, and the NAHL showcase is coming up, and after that about 100 players be cut loose, so we're hoping to add maybe three more of those guys, and then I'll feel great about where we're at."

Twin City finished with a 53-21 edge in shots on goal.

The Ice Hawks return to action Friday at the Breezy Point North Stars. The Ice Hawks return to Graham Arena at 7:05 p.m. Saturday to complete the two-game set against the North Stars.