Enforcers Rally Late, but Fall in OT
By Jonathan Kliment
Elmira, NY - Fans huddled into First Arena on Friday night to watch the Elmira Enforcers take on the Port Huron Prowlers. Elmira is 2-0 against Port Huron this season, and that has turned out to be the Enforcers' lone two victories so far.
Uncharacteristically, the first period action started out slowly, as the fans saw some back and forth play from both teams. Austin Daae was able to quiet the crowd when he forced a weak shot off the blocker of Troy Passingham and across the goal line to give Port Huron the 1-0 advantage. Elmira had their opportunities, as they were able to create a few odd-man rushes, but were unable to capitalize, which has seemed to be a common theme for the Enforcers this year.
The energy picked up in the second period, as we saw both teams playing the body and even sometimes too aggressive, which was the cause of a couple penalties. Port Huron was able to capitalize on their man advantage that they were given after a football-like tackle by Kyle Stevens. Yianni Liarakos popped Passingham's water bottle after a beautiful pass from Paul Arnott that threw the entire Enforcers' defense in the spin cycle. After constant pressure and dominating the shot chart, 27-18, the Enforcers were finally able to find a response. Cal Miska put home a rebound after a booming shot from the point by the big body of Glen Patterson. After dominance in the offensive zone, it only seemed like a matter of time before Elmira would light the lamp again.
The Enforcers came into the third with a plan that they executed fairly well. From the moment of puck drop, they wanted to get shots on goal and test the Port Huron netminder. Chris Paulin was making his first start of the year, but he stood his ground and showed no signs of first-game jitters. Paulin turned down 49 of 52 shots and proved to be the Prowlers biggest asset of the night. Matyas Kasek got the Prowlers on the board after some beautiful tape-to-tape passing by Zachary Zulkanycz and Matt Graham. Elmira's captain, Ahmed Mahfouz, got the Enforcers within one goal after being fed in the slot by Dale Deon from behind the net. Just as fans started heading for the exits and the Prowlers thought they earned their first victory against Elmira, the Captain struck again. Mahfouz got the puck on his stick in the crease and went top-shelf off of his backhand to beat Paulin on a near buzzer-beater.
Mahfouz got the crowd on their feet, and Elmira was ready to get their first home win of the year. Unfortunately, Port Huron spoiled the party at the First Arena. The Prowlers attacked quickly, and just sixteen seconds into overtime, they created a 2-on-1, and they executed. Matt Graham set up Austin Daae for a one-timer to beat Passingham and the Enforcers, 4-3.
Elmira will look to gain revenge against the Prowlers on Saturday night at 7:05 PM.
Photo credit: Choice Photography