Jmaeff Records Four Assists; Pavlas Wins Columbus Debut

by Tom Callahan

Columbus, GA – The Columbus River Dragons wrapped up the season series against the Port Huron Prowlers with an 8-3 win on Saturday night at the Columbus Civic Center.

Alexander Jmaeff tied a team season high with four assists in the game, while Austin Daae recorded a pair of goals in the victory. Jacob Kelly also tallied his league-leading 28th goal of the season and Kyle Heitzner recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, assist and a fight in the same game) in just his second game in a River Dragons uniform.

In all, 11 River Dragons totaled at least a point in the win.

Columbus also scored shorthanded twice in the game and is now 8-0-0 on the season when recording a shorthanded marker.

Goaltender Christian Pavlas made his River Dragons debut, making 36 saves to earn the win.

The team will now head out on a pair of road trips to Danbury to face the Hat Tricks, followed by a return to Carolina against the Thunderbirds. The next home game will be on Friday, February 17th against the Delaware Thunder at 7:30 pm. 

Tickets for all remaining River Dragons home games are on sale now through the Columbus Civic Center Box Office and start as low as $9 each.



by Brett Wiseman

Winston-Salem, NC.- In a game that had seemingly everything, the final score did not indicate how close of a contest it was through the first two and a half periods.

A game that had bruising physicality, scoring chances galore, tight checking and great goaltending the Carolina Thunderbirds pulled away from a pesky Mississippi Sea Wolves squad for an 8-3 triumph.

A sellout crowd of 3,200 fans inside the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex saw the Thunderbirds second straight victory, and their 11th in their last thirteen contests. 

Jiri Pestuka stayed hot, opening the scoring just 58 seconds into the game off of a set faceoff play. Jake Raleigh evened things up for the Sea Wolves 8 minutes later.

Both teams traded goals in the middle frame. A power play marker from league-point leader Gus Ford plus a Josh Koepplinger goal made up Carolina's second period scoring, while Yianni Liarakos and another from Raleigh set things tied at 3 after forty minutes of play.

It was a seven second stretch early in the third that flipped the game on its head.

At the 2:40 mark of the third period, Ford found a way through the Sea Wolves defense and ripped home a wicked wrist shot to give the Thunderbirds the lead.

Just seven seconds later, Koepplinger wired home a wicked wrister of his own, and Carolina never looked back.

Jan Salak put home his 8th goal of the year in his first game back from injury, and Dawson Baker scored his 11th goal of the season in just his second game back. Mixed in between those two tallies was another goal from Koepplinger, as his hat trick earned him first star honors.

Boris Babik was stalwart in net, stopping 26 of 29 shots and mixing in a few spectacular glove stops along the way.

Carolina continues their season long six-game homestand next weekend when the Thunderbirds welcome the Watertown Wolves to Winston-Salem.

Sea Wolves Struck by Thunderbirds in Third Period

by Nick Roesch

Winston-Salem, NC – The Mississippi Sea Wolves surrendered five goals in the third period on Saturday night as they lost 8-3 to the Carolina Thunderbirds at the WinstonSalem Fairground Annex. 

The Thunderbirds found the opening goal just 58 seconds into the game after Jiri Pestuka blasted home a shot right after a faceoff. Mississippi found their response from Jake Raleigh, who scored on an odd-man rush at 7:52 of the first period to knot the count at 1-1.

The second portion of play saw each team trade a pair of goals. Yianni Liarakos’ goal ballooned his point streak to seven games before Raleigh connected for his second of the night. Carolina saw Gus Ford and Josh Koepplinger rise as scorers as the teams stood at a 2-2 stalemate after 40 minutes of action. 

Carolina turned the game on its head in the third period, beginning with two strikes just seven seconds apart between Ford and Koepplinger. Koepplinger went on to secure a hat trick before the Thunderbirds added Jan Salak and Dawson Baker to the scoring list. 

The special teams on each side got a workout with the Sea Wolves seeing seven power plays compared to Carolina’s 11. The Thunderbirds led in shots on net 38-29. 

After having next weekend off from games, the Sea Wolves will be set for a home game on Friday, February 10 against the Motor City Rockers. The puck meets the ice at 7:05pm and fans can purchase tickets at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum box office or online at


The Hussey Brothers Earn Weekend Split for Watertown over Motor City

by Ben Szilagy

Fraser, MI.- The Watertown Wolves stopped its four game skid with a much needed 4-1 win over the Motor City Rockers on Saturday night at Big Boy Arena.  

Just like the Rockers did on Friday night, Motor City (16-12-4) started the game with a lead midway through the first period. 

As the puck was down low, Roman Gaudet slid it to Brad Reitter in the nearside corner. Reitter carried it into the slot and offered a rink wide pass to Josh Colten who fired the puck from the far side circle for a 1-0 lead. 

It was Colten’s seventh of the season. 

The rest of the period and the game belonged to Watertown (12-17-0)

As the Wolves were down a man due to a double minor, Watertown’s offense recorded two short-handed goals late in the first period.

Elijah Wilson picked up the puck in the neutral zone and created a two man rush into the offensive zone. After walking the puck in, Wilson fired a shot that was initially stopped. Brendan Hussey put away the rebound for a short-handed goal and his second of the season.

45-seconds later Michael Mann broke up a pass and offered a stretch pass to Trevor Lord that led to a breakaway. As he rushed into the zone, Lord fired a quick wrister high glove side for his seventh of the season and a 2-1 lead. 

Nothing was resolved in the second period much like Friday night on the scoreboard, and both teams couldn’t cash in on the power play. Both Motor City and Watertown couldn't convert on the man advantage as the Rockers went 0-for-4 and the Wolves went 0-for-6.

In the third period, former Delaware Thunder John Amanatidis offered a stretch pass back into the neutral zone that bounced in front of Larry Yellowknee. Yellowknee carried the puck on a breakaway and fired the puck top shelf on the far side for a 3-1 lead and his sixth of the season. It was his second of the weekend. 

The Wolves got its final goal just like its last three when Hussey collected the puck in the neutral zone and created a breakaway opportunity for the Wolves. He fired the puck to the top-shelf for his second of the game, and his first career multi-point game. 

Motor City wins the season series 4-2 over Watertown and will travel next week to Elmira for their first time meeting the Mammoth this season. 


Black Bears Edge Thunder

by Delaware Staff

Harrington, DE -  The Delaware Thunder lost a close one to the Binghamton Black Bears in Harrington, Delaware on Saturday night. The Thunder got on the board first with a goal by Olle Vennstrom midway through the first period and were able to maintain the 1-0 lead to the first intermission. 

Binghamton was able to knot the game at 1, 5:52 into the second on a tally by Nikita Ivashkin, but Delaware moved back ahead just 16 seconds later when Eric Melso put one in the net. The Black Bears knotted the score at 2 on a goal by Josh Newberg.

Binghamton took their first lead of the game just over 8 minutes into the third when Mathieu Boislard scored what proved to be the game winning goal. A late empty netter by Jake Schultz made the final score 4-2.

Black Bears Win 3rd In-a-row 

by Brooks Hill

Harrington, DE- The Binghamton Black Bears defeated the Delaware Thunder 4-2 on Saturday night. The Black Bears battled back after trailing and the end of the first period, to outscore the Thunder 4-1 in the final two periods of the game. 

The Black Bears came out firing in the first period, but goaltender Trevor Martin, withstood all the challenges he faced. Binghamton put 17 shots up for the second night in-a-row, but once again did not score in the opening frame. On the other hand, Delaware was able to execute a 2-on-1 and bury the game first goal. After 20 minutes, Delaware carried a one-goal lead into the locker room. 

In the middle frame, the Black Bears were able to tie the game on a Nikita Ivashkin unassisted goal. Delaware would answer 18 seconds and reclaimed the lead. Halfway through the period, Josh Newberg was able to sneak one by Martin and a turn-around shot from the blue line, squaring the game back up at 2-2. Things remained tied going into the final period. 

Delaware started the frame on the power play, but Binghamton was able to kill it off, the first half of the period was a like a tennis match, with teams volley the puck back and forth. It was Mathieu Boislard blasting one from the point past Delaware, giving Binghamton their first lead of the night. Then, a first of the season occurred. 

A section of glass completely shattered leading to a 17-minute delay in the action. 

After the ice crew installed a new sheet, the Black Bears played with all of the momentum, killing off one more penalty. The captain, Jake Schutlz, iced the game away with an empty netter, and secured the 4-2, regulation win for the Black Bears. Ian Wallace in his first start with the club picks up the W in net, and the Black Bears pick up another three points in the Empire Division. 

The same two teams will be back in action on Friday and Saturday next week. Both games will start at 7:00p.m. inside Visions Veterans Memorial Arena.



by Chris Lynch

Danbury, CT - After two difficult games, the Danbury Hat Tricks hoped some home-cooking would be good for their hockey souls. Against the Elmira Mammoth and with a raucous crowd at their backs, the Hat Tricks found exactly what they sought. 

Elmira opened the Saturday night game by scoring a goal 1:30 into the game, courtesy of Dalton Anderson’s efforts. From there, the Hat Tricks controlled the pace and rhythm of the evening, pumping in six unanswered goals on the Elmira Mammoth. 

Jarod Yau went first, scoring at the 3:31 mark of the first on a rolling puck to the slot. Igor Borschev went next at the 16:33 mark and Dustin Jesseau completed a three-point period, after notching assists on both prior goals, with a goal of his own at the 18:21 mark of the frame. From there, the Hat Tricks were in control of the game. 

Michael Falanga potted two goals in the second period, one at the 14:13 mark of the frame and another at the 16:26 point of the stanza. 

Daniel McKitrick landed one more score for good measure in the third to end the night’s scoring at 6-1. 

Hat Tricks’ defenseman Jarod Yau ended the night with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick while Dustin Jesseau notched three points on the evening. 

Danbury’s Frankie McClendon stopped 12 of 13 shots faced in net while Elmira’s Harley White stopped 38 of 44 shots faced. 

The Hat Tricks improve to 23-4-4 on the season, staying two points ahead of Binghamton for first place of the FPHL’s Empire Division. Elmira drops to 11-17-3, only sitting three points ahead of Watertown for the third spot in the Empire Division. 

The teams rematch on Sunday afternoon in New York’s Southern Tier. Puck drop at First Arena, in Elmira, is scheduled for 3 PM.