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By Phillip B. Wilson, Published May 03 2009

Indiana Ice push back: Force see Clark Cup finals tied at 1-1 heading back to Fargo

INDIANAPOLIS – Two seconds into the second period of a scoreless hockey game, Indiana Ice forward Sebastian Geoffrion dropped his gloves and balled up his fists to trade punches with Fargo forward Grant Scott.

Despite being one of the nastiest fighters in the U.S. Hockey League, Geoffrion was giving up 5 inches and 34 pounds. But the little guy beat the big guy to that solid first punch and eventually wrestled him down in the kind of stunning manhandling that epitomized how the desperate Ice evened their Clark Cup finals series Saturday.

A day after they let the Force be aggressors in Game 1, the Ice responded with one of their most physical efforts of the year in a 5-2 triumph in front of 3,558 at Pepsi Coliseum. And it was the kind of heroics one would expect from the likes of Geoffrion, the 19-year-old grandson of NHL Hall of Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion.

“I destroyed him with that first punch,” he said.

Most of the evening, the Ice won battles for pucks. They finished their checks more consistently. The energetic approach inevitably led to goals as they scored two more than previously unbeaten Fargo goalie Mike Lee had allowed in a game in the playoffs.

“We just had to come out there and hit,” said Grant Blakey, who at 5-8 and 177 dished out his share of constant irritation and had a goal and an assist.

“Everybody plays better when they’re hitting. I know I do.”

From the first check, and the customary thud of the boards, they let their intentions be known. Geoffrion, who didn’t play Friday, did his part not just by beating Scott in that fight but also scoring a goal.

Blakey and fellow fourth-line winger Jason Bourgea, in another sequence that summed up the victors’ resolve, cycled the puck along the boards for what seemed an eternity before Blakey emerged and fed center John Parker with a nifty pass for a go-ahead goal at 2-1 late in the second period.

“It felt so much better to work hard and get that goal,” Blakey said. “We’ve got to go get ’em in Fargo and do the same thing.”

The Ice didn’t trail again.

“I just shot it as hard as I could at the net,” Parker said.

Lee, who had stuffed the Ice with 33 saves in Game 1, wasn’t the same after falling behind by two goals. The Ice scored twice more in the final period. The USHL Goaltender of the Year had entered with a 1.70 goals against average in the playoffs.

“They played with a lot of desperation and they got a lot of bounces,” Lee said of the Ice. “They did a good job of getting under our skin, too. We need to do a better job of being disciplined.”

Force head coach Dean Blais was unavailable for comment after the game.

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, I, Galiev (Cook, Bitetto) 12:27. 2, F, Leitner (Taranto) 12:56. 3, I, Parker (Bourgea, Blakey) 16:15.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, I, Blakey (Hartman) 5:42. 5, I, Geoffrion (Cichy, Hartman) 5:51. 6, F, Taranto (McDermott, Areshenko) 15:13 (pp, ex). 7, I, Richardson (Cichy, Berschbach) 18:04.

SAVES: F, Lee 30. I, Bennett 23.