After six games of nonstop action, Team Mullen made history as the first ever 3ICE winner in Week 1 and they are leaving Las Vegas as champions. Despite losing their first game against Team Murphy, they advanced to the semifinal round as the losing team with the most goals and they took advantage of the opportunity to keep playing. Here’s how Team Mullen got here and how the action unfolded throughout the inaugural event.
The first ever 3ICE matchup was between Team Trottier and Team Fuhr, and it didn’t take long for the first-ever 3ICE goal to be scored. Making a name for himself right away, Peter “Swaggy P” Lenes scored on a breakaway to give Team Fuhr a 1-0 lead. After 16 minutes of play, Swaggy P was the leading storyline coming out of the first game, especially when he closed out the scoring with a hattrick just before time expired on the clock. Team Fuhr advanced to the semifinals with a 5-0 victory and goaltender Ryan Zapolski, who earned the shutout, gave his team a chance to secure the victory thanks to his impressive performance in net.
“This is fun now,” Lenes said. “You want to play hard, you want to have some fun, and get everyone excited about hockey.”
Next up, Team Murphy and Team Mullen took the ice for the second game of the opening round. Right before the puck dropped, Coach Joe Mullen emphasized the importance of getting off to a quick start which is exactly what they did on an early goal from Tim Coffman. After Team Murphy responded with a goal from Colton Hargrove, it was all Team Mullen with four consecutive goals coming from Patrick Mullen, Joe Whitney (2) and another one from Coffman. Down by four goals, Team Murphy pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and boy did their strategy work. Their offensive push to find the back of the net paid off with four consecutive goals from John Schiavo, Tim Davison and two from Chris Mueller to tie the game at 5. After forcing extra hockey, Griffen Molino won it for Team Murphy in Round 3 of the shootout, in a 6-5 comeback win.
Coach Larry Murphy was impressed with the perseverance his tight-knit group showed and he could feel the excitement on the bench from his guys, especially when they started to get back into the game.
“What a tremendous finish in front of the fans,” Murphy said. “This is what the excitement is all about in 3-on-3 hockey.”
And the excitement continued for the final game of the first round between Team Carbonneau and Team LeClair. Right off the bat, the chemistry was apparent between TJ Hensick and Brandon Hawkins, who were teammates with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. These two opened the scoring for Team LeClair, giving their team an early 2-0 lead, which they extended to 3-1 heading into the second half. Team Carbonneau responded on a penalty-shot goal from JC Campagna and the game-tying goal from Aaron Palushaj. While it looked like a shootout would be needed to determine a winner, Alex Kile broke the tie with 40 seconds left in regulation to send Team LeClair to the semifinals with a 4-3 win. Goaltenders Jeremey Brodeur from Team Carbonneau and Blake Weyrick from Team LeClair, who were faced with a handful of 2-on-1 attempts throughout the game, were credited for keeping this a one-goal game.
“We got a lot of chances, and we were bound to score a few,” Kile said.
With Round 1 in the books, Team Fuhr and Team Murphy took the ice for the first semifinal game. From the drop of the puck, it was up and down action from Schiavo and Swaggy P. Schiavo ripped the puck short side to give Team Murphy a 1-0 lead, but who else to respond to tie the game at 1 but Swaggy P for his fourth goal in two games. It was now Schiavo’s turn to notch a hattrick and he did so on a one-handed shuffle on the backhand, almost as if he were taking notes from his favorite player, Sidney Crosby. After Team Murphy extended their lead to 3-1, Team Fuhr pulled Zapolski from the net in hopes of a comeback, but a late goal from Jeff Taffe wasn’t enough to get pass Team Murphy, who earned themselves a spot in the championship round.
“They’re all veteran professional hockey players,” Murphy said. “In the dressing room, you really don’t have to say a lot because they understand the responsibility.”
To determine who Team Murphy would be playing in the championship, Team LeClair faced off against Team Mullen. While Dalton Skelly scored a quick goal for Team LeClair, Patrick Mullen and Kevin Fitzgerald responded to give Team Mullen a 2-1 lead that they only continued to build on. With help from Joe Whitney, who shutdown Team LeClair’s attempted comeback with two goals, Team Mullen didn’t lift their feet of the gas pedal this time and found a way to secure the 7-4 victory to send them to the championship game.
“We made some really good plays in the first, got the lead, and it was a good win for us,” Patrick Mullen said. “We let him (Goaltender Tomas Sholl) down in the first game, so it was good to see him get the win.”
It was time for the finale: a rematch from their thrilling meeting in the first round, Team Mullen and Team Murphy took center ice for the first ever 3ICE championship game. Playing in back-to-back games, Joe Whitney used the momentum from their previous victory to score the first goal of the game to give Team Mullen a 1-0 lead. Their energy didn’t die down through the 16 minutes of play after only allowing one goal from Team Murphy, which came from Mark Auk on a successful penalty shot attempt. The scoring for Team Mullen took off after Whitney’s first of the game. Kevin Fitzgerald, Tyler Murovich, and Pete MacArthur all got in on the fun by scoring two goals each to lead their team to a 7-1 victory. Team Mullen victoriously skated away with the championship win.
“It’s truly a privilege to be here,” Murovich said. “For me, I haven’t played in a few years now and to come back and do this with such a great group of guys, it’s truly a privilege. It’s unbelievable to watch, but to play is just a privilege.”