Enforcers Win 6th Straight
By Jonathan Kliment
Elmira, NY - The Elmira Enforcers welcomed 3,757 fans to First Arena on Friday night to watch them take on the Watertown Wolves. Unfortunately for the home team, that meant the leading scorer of the FHL, Tyler Gjurich was coming to town. Lucky for the Enforcers, he was missing his right hand man, Gavin Yates, who just accepted a contract with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). Yates is in second place for scoring in the league and helped set up many of his teammate’s goals. Elmira swept the reigning champions two weekends ago, but had a different looking roster in those contests. The team's leading scorer, Sean Reynolds, Cal Miska, and Ryan Devine have also recently signed in the SPHL.
For a team that was on a five-game winning streak, the Enforcers did not come out of the gates looking like themselves. Credit must be given to Watertown for a strong period of play, but everyone in the building knew there was more left in the tank for Elmira. Lane King put Watertown on the board at 7:23 into the game. After a shot from the point, King put home a rebound off the pillows of Elmira’s steady netminder Troy Passingham. Watertown struck again with just 15 seconds remaining in the period. Watertown set up another goal with a rebound, this time on the power play, and Anton Lennartsson pounded it home off an assist from Tyler Gjurich. With the elimination of costly turnovers, Elmira still had plenty of time to crawl their way back into this game.
After coming out cold, the Enforcers were red hot in the second period. However, to make the comeback more difficult, Watertown found the back of the net one last time before the surge. Captain Ahmed Mahfouz set up the first goal of the game for Elmira to get the scoring started. Mahfouz walked into the zone from the boards and found Kyle Stevens to hammer home the one-timer. The goal seemed to spark a fire for the Enforcers, as they did not let up for the rest of the period. Just over a minute later defenseman Cameron Yarwood received a pass from Brandon Vuic and blasted one by the Watertown netminder to decrease the deficit to one goal. With a little over five minutes to go in the frame, Elmira evened the score at 3-3. Brendan Hussey received a pass from Vuic in the corner and beat Jared Rutledge on his glove-side. This was his fifth goal in the past three games.
Elmira did not take their foot off of the gas pedal in the third period. Mahfouz picked up right where the team left off and scored at just 24 seconds into the period. After a skirmish in front of the net, the puck was lying no more than an inch away from the goal line, but no one other than Mahfouz seemed to know it was there. The Captain poked it across the line to make the score 4-3 and send the Elmira crowd into a roar. At 14:59, the Enforcers capped off the comeback with their fifth unanswered goal. Sharpshooter Cameron Yarwood was able to bury his second goal of the night after a beautiful pass from Mahfouz that set up a one-timer beside the net. After trailing 3-0, Elmira had the heart and hustle to never give up.
With their sixth victory in a row, this marks an Elmira Enforcers franchise record. They will look to continue their win streak as they take on the Wolves again tomorrow night in Watertown.
Photo credit: Curtis Berleue Photography