Justin Bailey -- the Ice's first pick in the USHL Futures Draft -- made his USHL debut tonight.
It took him just half a period to score his first USHL goal.
A highly-touted 6-foot-3, 182-pound forward prospect from upstate New York -- and the son of former NFL player Carlton Bailey -- Justin Bailey had initially decided to play the year for a team coached by Pat LaFontaine on Long Island. He has been on the Ice's affiliate list, and has yet to show up on the Ice's 23-man protected roster, which is updated each Friday by USA Hockey.
Bailey -- who was also selected by the OHL's Kitchener Rangers this year -- couldn't have picked a better time to join the Ice and make an impact. Playing a big two-game series against a Youngstown Phantoms squad that appears to be in a tussle with the Ice for playoff position the rest of the year, Bailey scored the game's first goal, assisted by linemates Emil Romig and Dan Sherer, at 10:25 of the first period.
That would eventually turn into a four-goal lead in a 5-2 Ice victory over the Phantoms Friday at Pepsi Coliseum. The two teams will meet again at 6:05 p.m. Saturday at Bankers Life (formerly Conseco) Fieldhouse in downtown Indy.
The Ice took advantage of a 5-on-3 early in the second period -- with a carryover penalty to start the period added onto with a minor on ex-Iceman Alex Gacek. It took just 12 seconds into the two-man advantage -- and 46 into the second period -- for Daniil Tarasov to make it a 2-0 game, with Ryan Obuchowski and Robert Polosello assisting.
Sean Kuraly and John Doherty scored 1:47 apart midway through the period to make it 3-0. For Kuraly, it continued a hot streak, as he has now scored a goal in four straight games and has 17 for the season in 23 games. Doherty's goal was his first in eight games since joining the Ice in a trade from Dubuque, and it chased Youngstown starter Matthew O'Connor, who left after stopping 10 of 14 shots in 31:05. Sean Romeo stopped all 13 shots he faced after that. The Ice dominated the second period, outshooting Youngstown 16-8 in the middle 20 minutes.
Youngstown scored twice to cut the Ice lead to 4-2, but Ice goaltender Jon Gillies stood tall. Tarasov added an empty-netter for his 17th goal and 36th point of the year.
Gillies made 25 saves to make the lead stand up. He was making his 11th straight start for the Ice, and is 7-2-2 in that stretch.
The victory moved the Ice into second place with a 16-7-4 record and 36 points -- seven back of first-place Green Bay, one ahead of Dubuque and two ahead of Youngstown.
1. Sean Kuraly (Ice), goal, +2, 2 shots
2. Daniil Tarasov (Ice), 2 goals, 3 shots
3. Justin Bailey (Ice), goal, +1, 3 shots