By Debbie Juniewicz
Dayton Daily News
CINCINNATI – Even Dayton Bombers center Paul Kelly was stunned by goal No. 3.
“I thought, ‘Did I just do that?’?” Kelly said. “I guess I picked a pretty good day.”
Kelly scored his first career hat trick Monday, sparking a 6-2 Dayton win over Cincinnati when the Bombers needed it most — down 3-1 in the best-of-seven ECHL North Division Finals.
Dayton handled the Cyclones with relative ease in front of 1,004 at the U.S. Bank Arena.
“The fact that this could be our last game was definitely in everybody’s head,” Kelly said. “But the pressure was all on them to finish us off. We didn’t have anything to lose.”
Kelly opened the scoring with a deflection into the net with just 3:39 off the clock and closed out the first period with Dayton’s second goal at 15:27. Cyclones forward Mathieu Aubin slipped one past Dayton goaltender Adam Berkhoel midway through the period, but the Bombers led 2-1 at the break.
Kelly continued his offensive clinic with his third goal late in the second period. Dayton had a 5-on-3 advantage for the final 1:56 of the period after a pair of Cyclones penalties, but couldn’t take advantage. The Bombers led 4-2 after 40 minutes.
“Kelly is a battler, he always has been,” Dayton coach Don MacAdam said. “He is one of the guys who suffered through the hard times with us, so it’s nice to see him have success.”