by Zak DeBeaussaert
Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons booked their trip to the Commissioner's Cup final after a 5-1 win over the Danbury Hat Tricks on Sunday night, sweeping the best-of-3 series two games to none.
MJ Graham began the scoring in game two at the 11:31 mark of the first period driving to the net and beating Pete Di Salvo to the glove hand. The goal was assisted by Parker Moskal and Adam Vannelli to put the River Dragons up 1-0 which would hold through the first 20 minutes.
In the second 20 minutes, Alex Storjohann tallied the only goal of the period at the 6:47 mark to double the River Dragons lead. Storjohann reached the puck before it left the zone and turned it back and fired through traffic to extend the Columbus lead to 2-0.
In the third period, Columbus kept their foot on the gas pedal and never allowed Danbury a chance to get back in the game. Jagger Williamson began the offensive onslaught in the period for Columbus when he slid one past Peter Di Salvo near the nine-minute mark to give Columbus a 3-0 advantage. MJ Graham scored his second of the night just 42 seconds after the Williamson goal assisted by Hunter Bersani and Chase Carter to stretch the lead to 4-0. Austin Daae would score the last River Dragons goal of the night at the 17:08 mark with an empty netter assisted by Josh Pietrantonio and MJ Graham that left the score at 5-0 for the River Dragons.
A brawl broke out in front of the Columbus net which saw Adam Vannelli handed down interference and fighting penalties, Tobias Odjick handed down a fighting penalty, and both Vannelli and Jay Croop additionally earning game misconducts. the resulting penalty math gave Danbury a power play and they were finally able to solve Bailey MacBurnie at the 19:48 mark of the final period with Adam Dauda tallying the goal on the power play assisted by Jonny Ruiz and Nicola Levesque to conclude the score at 5-1.
Bailey MacBurnie secured his second postseason win with 21 saves on the night. Peter Di Salvo took the loss with 35 saves on 39 shots.
Columbus will take on the Watertown Wolves in the Commissioner's Cup final series. Watertown will have the home-ice advantage but Columbus will host game 1 in Columbus on Friday night.