Enforcers Win in OT
By Jonathan Kliment
Elmira, NY - After dropping two games following a franchise record 5-game win streak, the Elmira Enforcers came into Saturday's game looking to get back in the win column against the Mentor Ice Breakers. Elmira had a 3-0 lead in the season series, and a 14-6 lead in the goal column. After a tough loss last night to the 1st place Carolina Thunderbirds, the Enforcers did not disappoint the 4,159 fans at First Arena tonight.
Both teams came out hot in the first period, with Elmira getting the better of Mentor. Enforcers #44 Cal Miska would get the night started early when he ripped a beautiful shot past the Ice Breakers goalie for his sixth goal of the season at just under four minutes into the game. Following a Mentor tripping penalty, the Enforcers leading goal scorer Sean Reynolds would take a beautiful shot on goal that was saved, but when the goalie failed to cover the puck, Reynolds was given another opportunity. He took advantage and sniped a wrist-shot past the netminder to give the Enforcers an early 2-0 lead. Mentor wouldn’t be completely outdone in this period though, as they would come back with a goal of their own when Thomas McKinnon was able to put one past veteran goalie Troy Passingham. Penalties and shots were the definition of the first twenty minutes, with six penalties (three from each team), and a total shot count of 31. Mentor lead in the shot column, 18-13, but the Enforcers went to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
The second period could take the cake as one of the longest periods of the season, and possibly one of the longest periods in FHL history. It was Mentor who struck first, as #25 Gordy Bonnel went streaking down the ice and put the puck into the back of the net to tie the game up at 2-2. After the goal, things took a turn and the game got much more physical, leading to a fight between new Elmira signing #21 Ryan Devine and #3 Matt Kadolph of Mentor. Devine dominated the scrap, knocking Kadolph to his knees with a cut eye which sent him to the locker room to get fixed up. The Enforcers took advantage of the momentum and scored just seconds after play resumed, as Stepan Timofeyev ripped a gorgeous wrist shot that beat the Mentor goalie top shelf on his stick side. The physical play and constant talk did not settle down though, as Enforcers Captain Ahmed Mahfouz attempted to take matters into his own hands after failure to get a call for a high hit. After constant chirping and no reaction from Mentor’s #19 Brody Duncan, Mahfouz eventually grabbed Mentor's Assistant Captain by his visor and gave him a couple jabs to the face before the referees pulled them apart. The outburst would cost Mahfouz a double minor for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. Mentor still lead in the shot column, 27-26, but it was Elmira who lead in the score column, 3-2 to finish out the first forty minutes.
The third period took on the same attitude as the rest of the game with plenty of huge hits, numerous shots, and more goals scored. Mentor started the action with Brody Duncan scoring an unassisted goal to tie the game at 3-3. Elmira bounced back and took the lead when Captain Ahmed Mahfouz put one in the net with the assist going to Darren “The Van Man” Lamble and Brandon Vuic. Mentor followed up with a goal from #23 Joe Swenson to tie the game once again at 4-4. Elmira was finally able to take the lead in the shot column, 43-37, and with a tie at the end of regulation, the game was headed into overtime.
Overtime is one of the most exciting things in hockey, and the Enforcers wanted to wrap things up quickly. Cameron Yarwood would send a beautiful pass across the ice to Sean Reynolds who was able to slap a perfect one-timer top shelf for the game-winner at 1:02.
The Enforcers bounced back tonight after two tough losses and are back on the winning side of things for a season record at 11-10-1-3. Elmira will play a home-and-home series next weekend with defending Commissioner's Cup Champions, the Watertown Wolves. Friday, January 11th is in Watertown at 7:30 PM and Saturday, January 12th is back home at First Arena with a 7:05 PM start.
Photo credit: Curtis Berleue Photography