LAFAYETTE — When the Louisiana IceGators had a chance to hand Fayetteville its first loss of the season, they made sure the hill was too steep for the FireAntz to climb.
Louisiana used three third-period goals to ensure a 4-2 victory Saturday night in the Cajundome.
“I was excited to see the way we came out in the third, because I was very disappointed with how we played in the second period,” IceGators coach Drew Omicioli said. “When we have an opponent down, we have to take advantage of that.”
The third-period burst included a goal by Blake Hietala and a pair from Dylan Hood to change a 1-1 tie to a 4-1 lead. Jake Hauswirth helped set Hietala up for a breakaway, and a sprawling Hietala was able to beat Fayetteville goalie Sean Bonar with 16:21 left.
Hood followed his first goal with another when he beat Bonar high with a wrist shot with 2:41 remaining.
The FireAntz (4-1) closed the scoring when Zach Carriveau banked a shot off a defender for a score.
“Hood and Hietala have been our two most consistent guys,” Omicioli said. “Hietala provides that consistency through his work ethic.”
The IceGators held the FireAntz without a shot on goal for more than eight minutes. Bonar turned Louisiana away on a handful of opportunities during most of the opening period until Hauswirth started the scoring with a wrist shot after he took a feed from defenseman Jordan Ciccarello with 4:46 remaining.
The Gators (2-3-1) maintained that advantage through the rest of the period and ended it with twice the shots of the FireAntz — 8-4. Fayetteville’s best chance in the first 20 minutes came when Berkley Scott had a point-blank shot at Gators goalie Adam Courchaine, but Courchaine answered that challenge.
“That was the plan (early), to cycle the puck,” Omicioli said. “If it doesn’t tire them out in the first period, it will in the third. When we kept it in the corners, we were able to dominate.”
The teams face off again at 3:05 p.m. Sunday.