Enforcers Win Four in a Row
By Jonathan Kliment
Elmira, NY - The Elmira Enforcers are on the rise with their fourth consecutive victory. A crowd of 2,519 piled into the First Arena on Friday night to watch the Enforcers take on the Danville Dashers, which resulted in a 5-1 victory for the home team.
Elmira has profited off the return of their captain, as Ahmed Mahfouz wasted no time getting on the stat sheet on Wednesday evening, tallying Elmira’s first goal in a 7-3 victory over the Watertown Wolves. Unfortunately, the Enforcers will be missing their true enforcer in Darren Lamble as the Van-Man is forced to sit on the IR. Something you don’t get to see every day is watching a coach step onto the ice with his squad. However, for Head Coach Brent Clarke, there is no such thing as backing down. Clarke decided to lace up the skates while injuries continue to nag the Elmira locker room. Enforcers’ owner, Robbie Nichols, would take on the duty of Head Coach for the night, seeking his 328th professional career win behind the bench. This marked the fifth contest between these clubs, with the series tied at two games apiece.
With all of the extracurricular activity taking place tonight, the festivities did not fail to start right away. Within three minutes of puck drop, Elmira already found themselves trailing on the scoreboard. Coming into the game, Elmira’s plan was to contain Danville’s leading goal scorer, Stephen Gaul. However, early on, the slippery center was able to make his presence known. The Dashers took off on a 3-on-2 fast break, with Head Coach Brent Clarke on the defense. Ultimately targeting the rusty veteran, Danville was able to find Clarke on the weak-side and seam a pass across the slot that left a wide open net for Gaul, marking his 15th goal on the year. Later in the period, Clarke started shaking off the rust and holding his own, peppering some shots on goal and making some crisp tape-to-tape passes. Eventually, the Enforcers were able to strike with just 17 seconds remaining in the first period. Tom Tracy was able to pound home a rebound after a booming slap shot came from the point off the stick of Cameron Yarwood. Better late than never, the Enforcers were able to knot the score at 1-1 before heading into the locker room after dominating the shot chart, 18-9.
After some new additions to tonight’s lineup, Elmira finally started to create some chemistry and truly hit their stride in the second period. Halfway through the frame, Sean Reynolds started to take over. Reynolds found himself in a 2-on-1 situation and chose to trust his own ability to snipe and never looked back. Beating the Danville netminder low on the blocker-side, Elmira took the lead, 2-1. Noticing the dominance of his top line, Robbie Nichols chose to leave the same forward line on the ice, and it paid off. The Enforcers were able to capitalize on a turnover after a defensive zone mishap by the Dashers. The turnover allowed Elmira to create another 2-on-1 opportunity, and they picked up right where they left off. Reynolds fed the puck to Mahfouz across the slot for a one-time shot that banged off the pad of the Danville goaltender, leaving Reynolds a juicy rebound. Doing what he does best, Reynolds lit the lamp and proceeded to celebrate twice in one shift. After putting the team on his back with hustle and production, Reynolds and the Enforcers left the ice after two periods with a 3-1 lead.
With the absence of several players in tonight’s lineup, it was noticeable that Elmira was beginning to fatigue in the final period. Some of the top Enforcers were required to step up and log some large minutes. As the third dragged on for Elmira’s heavy legs, each player accepted their role well, especially Ahmed Mahfouz. Despite racking up some big time on the ice, he continued to produce. The Enforcers’ Captain was able to finish in front of the net after being fed by a gorgeous pass from the corner by Kyle Stevens who twirled off his defender. Coming into tonight with two goals in the previous game, the scalding hot Stevens was not finished. Relying on the odd-man rush for production tonight, Stevens was able to break through the defense with teammate, Chris Williamson, for a 2-on-1 fast-break. Stevens stopped on a dime and fed Williamson across the crease to put the icing on the cake; the Enforcers took a 5-1 lead and never looked back. To send the crowd home with their money’s worth, Joe Cannon decided to drop the gloves with his opponent.
When it comes to the Enforcers, you never know what surprise may be thrown your way. However, you can always rely on some quality and entertaining hockey. The fans who walked into the arena tonight most likely did not expect their Head Coach to tally an assist, but it got the job done and sent the crowd home happy.
Come down to First Arena tomorrow night at 7:05 PM to see what the Enforcers may have up their sleeve in a rematch with the Danville Dashers. The Enforcers will look to continue to make history and secure their fifth win in a row.
Photo credit: Andy Malnoske of WETM