Enforcers Season Comes To An End As River Dragons Hoist Cup With 8-1 Game 3 Win
by Jonathan Kliment
Elmira made the trek down to Columbus, Georgia for Game #3 of the 2021 Ignite Cup Final after dropping the opening two games of the series on home ice at First Arena. Saturday night's 4-3 2OT loss served as a heartbreak the Enforcers looked to avenge following their rather lengthy bus trip as they skated out onto the ice at the Columbus (GA) Civic Center in hopes of salvaging their season and living to fight another day.
Just 1:20 into the frame, the RIver Dragons entered into the offensive end 3-on-2 as a tic-tac-toe passing play going right-wing to center to left-wing was taken up and over the glove of Joe Young by Mac Jansen. With 8:33 remaining in the 1st, a giveaway in the offensive end bounced to Josh Pietrantonio, was knocked down by Joe Young and got tapped over to Jansen who ripped it in for his second goal of the night, and the team's second of the game as the lead doubled, 2-0. 3:17 later, Young turned an initial shot aside from Mac Jansen before Austin Daae strutted in and buried the rebound to triple the score, 3-0, in favor of Columbus heading to the dressing room after twenty.
The second period didn't go much better for the visiting side. 9:10 ticked away before Connor Fries grabbed it in the aftermath of an offensive net-front attack and wrapped around the cage, shipping it up and in to make the RIver Dragons lead 4-0. A give-and-go play between MJ Graham and Gehrett Sargis on a break-in to the offensive half ended with a Sargis lamplighter to stretch the advantage to 5-0 Columbus after two periods of play.
The 3rd period kicked off with a boom. Jake Schultz whipped the puck from the right-wing side to a waiting Connor Fries in the slot, ripping it in for a 6-0 lead just 3:31 having gone by. Nick Magone's good fortune came next when he streaked from the blocker side circle to the net and potted the puck five-hole, with the board now 7-0 in favor of the River Dragons. Columbus added an eighth goal when Nick Mangone slipped one past Joe Young to stretch it to an 8-0 hockey game with 10:59 to go. Elmira avoided the shutout as Steve Leonard cranked one-off from the top of the left-wing circle that was tipped netfront by Glen Patterson to make the score 8-1 in favor of Columbus.
Joe Young stopped 24 of 32 in the loss.
The entirety of the Enforcers organization sends a huge round of congratulations to the Columbus River Dragons for capturing their first championship in team history. Season start dates for the 2021-22 FPHL campaign are already being tossed around, and the boys in green and white will be back on First Arena ice before you know it with some unfinished business to attend to. Keep your eyes peeled on our pages throughout the offseason for any and all updates, and thank you for another great season!