Enforcers Home Opener Creates Buzz, But No Victory
By Jonathan Kliment
Elmira, NY - The Elmira Enforcers and the Carolina Thunderbirds met again on Friday night for the third time in this 2018-2019 FHL campaign, only this would be on Elmira's home ice at First Arena. The game was sold out and set an FHL attendance record with 4,310 fans in the stands. The Enforcers entered play after earning their first two wins on the season last weekend against Port Huron to improve their record to (2-3-0-1). The Thunderbirds visited Elmira on top of the standings at (5-1-0-0).
The first period started out a bit on the slower side as each team was warming up to the new ice and new fan base at the First Arena. Elmira started out as the early aggressors by throwing the puck on net frequently and implementing a physical style of play. Elmira was unable to capitalize on their two power play opportunities that were handed to them. Carolina slowly gained the momentum back in the second half of the period, and outshot the Enforcers by a slim margin of 8-7.
Elmira fans had more action to cheer about in the second period as the physical play picked up even more with a few cheap shots thrown into the mix. Elmira was also able to find the back of the net just 3:31 into the period. Stepan Timofeyev was able to jam in a power play goal on a call that was controversial if the puck even crossed the line. However, with 2:34 remaining in the period, Carolina was able to respond as they controlled most of the play in the second period. Stanislav Vlasov whistled one by the blocker of Troy Passingham on a one timer from the point. Petr Panacek gave a beautiful feed along the blue line as the Thunderbirds took advantage of a long 5-on-3 power play.
With Carolina dominating the shot chart, 22-13, these two teams entered the third period of play even in the goal column at 1-1. Elmira turned the tables as the Enforcers ultimately stole the momentum that Carolina thought would carry over from the second period. The Enforcers did just about everything they could possibly do, except for finding the back of the net. Elmira was able to muster multiple odd-man rushes, ring the puck off the post, and crash the net with some force. However, tonight just was not their night. Unfortunately for Elmira, the Thunderbirds found some late period magic. Peter Cicmanec was able to rip one by Troy Passingham with the help of his teammates Michael Bunn and Joe Cangelosi. Elmira dominated the possession of the puck for most of the period, but Carolina was able to sneak away with a 2-1 victory in enemy territory.
These two teams will go at it once again in less than 24 hours. Saturday night's game is expected to be even more eventful as tempers are flaring and these teams simply do not get along. Tonight's game was a record setting sell out, and tomorrow will be no different. Less than 900 tickets remain to watch these teams do battle on the ice at 7:00 PM.
Photo credit: Andrew Legare of the Elmira Star-Gazette