Enforcers Can't Deliver on Guarantee

By Jonathan Kliment 

Elmira, NY - The Elmira Enforcers returned to First Arena on Friday night following a tough shootout loss to the Watertown Wolves on New Year's Eve. Elmira was looking for their first win against the Carolina Thunderbirds as they met for the eighth time this season out of a total of fourteen contests. Though their 5-game win streak was snapped on Monday night, things have really been looking up for the Enforcers, as they have looked strong on both offense and defense, and their scoring chances have been a lot more prominent as of late. Ownership guaranteed a victory, or everyone in attendance would receive two free tickets to Saturday's game against the Mentor Ice Breakers. This gamble proved to be bittersweet, as 3,156 fans made out when the home team couldn't deliver.

A nice surprise was #88 Brandon Vuic being back in the lineup for Elmira after not having him for quite some time. In just 16 games for the Enforcers, Vuic has scored 7 goals and contributed 6 assists for a total of 13 points. Elmira is also very productive with him on the ice, as he comes back with a +8 in his time with the team.

The first period saw both teams controlling the puck in the zone and throwing quite a few shots on net. No goals were scored, and no penalties were committed by either team. Elmira led with shots, 13-8. 

The second period was much more interesting, as Elmira would finally crack the scoreboard when their points leader Sean Reynolds and the Captain Ahmed Mahfouz set up the star defensemen Glen Patterson for the old "dangle, snipe, celly". Patterson would rip an absolute clapper of a slap shot from around the blue line that went past the Carolina netminder for his fifth goal of the season. Carolina would bounce back though, just like they have all season. Stanislav Vlasov would rip his own slap shot from the center of the Thunderbirds zone that would beat the reliable Troy Passingham to tie the score up, 1-1 with just four minutes left in the period. Plenty of shots would find their way to the net during this period, and Elmira would continue to lead in that category, 26-20. Offensive zone time would be about even during the frame, and the score was definitely a reflection of that, as the Enforcers were pushing to get their first win against the FHL leading Thunderbirds. 

The Enforcers lead this game in the shot column, but unfortunately they weren't able to take advantage of the opportunities they were given. About halfway through the period, Carolina's Captain Josh Pietrantonio was able to streak past the Enforcers defense with an incredible deke and rip an absolute snipe of a wrist shot right past the glove of the Enforcers goalie Troy Passingham. The Enforcers would be given an important 5-on-3 power play chance late in the period, but they weren't able to capitalize. They only got two shots on net during the 5-on-3, which was well over a minute long. The shots would finish with Elmira leading, 35-29, but the scoreboard didn't reflect that, as Carolina would take the game, 2-1. 

The Enforcers still have not been able to beat the Thunderbirds this season in eight total meetings, but will have six more chances before the regular season is over. The Enforcers are home again at First Arena on Saturday evening when they host the Mentor Ice Breakers at 7:05 PM.

Photo credit: Curtis Berleue Photography