Game Recaps 3/22/24


History Made

by Brooks Hill

Binghamton, NY - The Binghamton Black Bears have become the 2023-24 Empire Division Champions with a 5-2 victory over the Watertown Wolves. The Black Bears are the first team in Binghamton hockey history since the 2013-14 Binghamton Senators to win a division title. 

The party started late, Watertown got the first goal of the game on the power play. Binghamton was peppering the Wolves’ goalie, as they put a season-high 29 shots on goal but had nothing to show for it. Wolves led on the road, 1-0 after 20 minutes. 

Connor Smith gave the arena life, as he scored his first goal in last seven games tying the game at 1-1. Just minutes later, the cowboy lassoed a rebound, giving Binghamton their first lead of the night at 2-1. From there, the Black Bears never looked back. 

Binghamton continued to control the pace of play in the third. Tyson Kirkby was able to pot his 31st of the season, a new career-high high, which also developed into the gamewinning goal. The Black Bears got into some penalty trouble late, and Watertown was able to inch closer, but the Black Bears tallied the final goal into the empty net. Binghamton won 5-2. 

With Columbus defeating Motor City in regulation time, the Black Bears will be able to clinch their first division title in franchise history. The Binghamton Black Bears are the 2023-24 Empire Division Champions!



by Will Wiegelman

Port Huron, MI -  Conor Foley pulled off the one-handed “Forsberg” move in the shootout to help the Port Huron Prowlers take down the Elmira River Sharks 4-3 on March 22. Foley’s goal in the first round was the only one of the skills competition.

“He has a really deceptive shot,” said Prowlers head coach Matt Graham. “I put him out there because I thought he would go down and take a shot. That’s what you’re looking for in shootouts, guys to shoot the puck, because the ice is pretty chewed up at that point and then he goes out and does one of the nicest moves I’ve seen in a shootout in a long time.”

It wasn’t a good start for Port Huron however, as Steven Klinck broke the ice 4:09 in with a backhander on the rush and then Bret Parker doubled the advantage less than two minutes later.

“Our emphasis was on having a fast start and playing hard and I think we came out slow again,” Graham said. “We have to find a way to have better starts to these games.”

That lasted into the second when the Prowlers got a power play. Liam Freeborn’s shot hit a skate and deflected to Ross Bartlett on the back door for an easy tap-in goal. 1:57 later, Conor Foley threw a hit on Davide Gaeta to cause a turnover at the red line. He took the return feed from Freeborn and fired it home to knot the score.

Klinck gave his team the lead back in the third with a wrister from nearly the same spot he scored his first of the night. The Port Huron man advantage struck again when Tristan Simm had the puck come back to him in the slot and he snapped it home to tie things at three and send the game to overtime.

Ian Wallace stopped all five shots he saw in the extra session, including a Gaeta breakaway, and the Prowlers survived an Elmira power play to push the game the distance.

Foley scored in the first round while Wallace stopped Gaeta, Elijah Wilson and Klinck to seal the deal.

Freeborn had a pair of assists and Wallace finished with 33 saves plus three stops in the shootout.

“Much like the team, I thought [Wallace] got better as the game went on,” Graham said. “It’s been a bit since he’s had a start I think. Settling back into the net and getting his confidence was important and I think he did that tonight. In the second and third periods, he was able to minimize the chance that they had and shutting the door in the shootout was awesome for him.”

Klinck led his team with two tallies while Sammy Bernard made 33 stops in the loss.

The Prowlers and River Sharks meet for the final time on Saturday, March 23rd for Pucks and Pups night at McMorran Place. Tickets are available at

Prowlers Best Elmira in Shootout, 4-3

by Jon Kliment

Port Huron, MI -  Elmira enters the weekend just 4 points ahead of the Watertown Wolves with just 8 games remaining while Watertown holds two games in hand. Points are at a premium this late and facing off with an opponent who has clinched their postseason berth already the River Sharks hoped to take advantage of a team with very little to play for. 

It didn't take long for the River Sharks to get going as Steven Klinck took a pass from Trevor Neumann and skated in on Port Huron's Ian Wallace going forehand backhand and over the shoulder to open the scoring and give Elmira the 1-0 advantage. 2:12 later Bret Parker added another on an MJ Maerkl dump in that Parker ripped towards the net and gave Elmira the 2-0 advantage.

The Prowlers came out in the second with a chip on their shoulder and after an early penalty to Blake Peavey for hooking Ross Bartlet was able to tip home a shot from Liam Freeborn to bring Port Huron back to within one, 2-1. 1:57 later Conor Foley netted an even strength goal to tie things up at 2 goals a piece.

Klinck hustled into the third and found the back of the net early as just 1:13 into the third Elmira went back up 3-2. However a power play goal midway through from Tristan Simm tied things up at 3 a piece. No one could find the back of the net in three on three overtime, but when the shootout commenced Conor Foley held his shot long enough to send Sammy Bernard sprawling and earn Port Huron the 1-0 shootout victory as Gaeta, Wilson, and Klinck all were snubbed by Wallace.

Bernard stopped 33 of 36 in the loss.

Elmira returns to McMorran Arena for the final time this season tomorrow night for a 6:05 pm puck drop. Follow along on Youtube and Mixlr for all the action!



by Brett Wiseman

Wytheville, VA - The Blue Ridge Bobcats battled to the bitter end and gained a hard earned standings point in a 2-1 overtime defeat at the hands of the defending champion Danbury Hat Tricks.

Vladislav Vlasov's 14th goal of the season, scored on a redirect off a point wrist shot by Igor Dolkart, at the 6:52 mark of the first period was the lone goal for either side until late in the game. Both sides put on an evening-long clinic of tight-checking, physical, defensively sound playoff-style hockey.

Johnny Ruiz's 34th goal of the season, scored on the power play with just over 4 minutes remaining in regulation, ended up sending the game beyond the scheduled 60 minutes.

22 seconds into the extra frame, Justin Daly took a holding penalty, and Josh Labelle converted 11 seconds into the ensuing power play to give Danbury the victory.

The two teams will meet for the second and final time this season tomorrow night.


by Doug Lattuca

Wytheville, VA - Josh Labelle’s power play blast from the point just 32 seconds into overtime capped off a late 2-1 comeback victory for the Hat Tricks over the Bobcats in the inaugural matchup between the two sides. 

With the win, Danbury has victories in four straight and in eleven of the last 14. Additionally, the Hat Tricks are just five points behind Motor City for second-place in the division and home ice advantage in round one of the playoffs.

With 13:08 remaining in the first period, Bobcats forward Vladislav Vlasov released a seeing-eye wrister through traffic and into the back of the net to give Blue Ridge an early 1-0 lead. Despite being down at the end of one, the Hat Tricks led the game in shots, 12-8. 

Both goalies were flawless in the second frame, stopping 25 combined shots, and for most of the third, the offenses were silent. But the Hat Tricks found some juice late and mounted a comeback.

With four minutes remaining in regulation, forward Johnny Ruiz found a loose puck in front and roofed it under the bar for the game-tying goal on the power play. The Hat Tricks captain has recorded a point in six straight games, tallying nine during that span (4g, 5a). 

It did not take long for the Hat Tricks to strike in the extra period. Following a holding penalty 22 seconds into OT, Labelle unloaded a rocket from the blue line past Blue Ridge goaltender Owen Liskiewicz to take game one of the weekend set. 

Hat Tricks netminder Talor Joseph stopped 35 of 36 shots in his second start with the team, while Bobcats goaltender Liskiewicz allowed two goals on 28 shots. 

The Hat Tricks return to action Saturday for the second game of the two-game series in Wytheville. The puck drops at 7 p.m.


 Thunderbirds Shutout Zydeco, 4-0

Carolina picks up fourth shutout win of season

by Brendan Reilly

Winston-Salem, NC - For the second time in-a-row at home, the Carolina Thunderbirds shutout the Baton Rouge Zydeco, 4-0, on Friday evening at the Fairgrounds Arena.


Riding a five-game win streak, Carolina (35-11-2) struck first late in the 1st period. Gus Ford was left alone in the slot off a pass from Josh Koepplinger and beat Baton Rouge (10-32-4) netminder Bailey Stephens on the forehand giving the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.


In the 2nd period on a 4-on-4 situation, James Farmer ripped a slapshot off the glove of Stephens that trickled into the net just 47 seconds into the period for his first FPHL goal, doubling the lead for the Thunderbirds, 2-0. Carolina held that lead after 40 minutes with Cody Karpinski saving all 18 shots he saw across the first two frames.


Over the final 20 minutes, Roman Kraemer found a deflection on a shot from the point from Farmer that skipped over the glove of Stephens building the lead to three. Less than four minutes later, Dawson Baker ripped a snapshot on the power play from the top of the slot, putting the finishing touches on Baton Rouge capping off a 4-0 victory. 


The shutout was Carolina’s second straight shutout victory at home over Baton Rouge with Karpinski saving all 24 shots he saw on the evening. It was Karpinski’s second shutout this season after not recording a shutout until March 10th since December of 2018. 


Carolina and Baton Rouge meet for the final time in the regular season on Saturday evening in Winston-Salem. Puck drop is set for 6:05 p.m. from the Fairgrounds Arena. 




 River Dragons Remain Unbeaten at Home

by Tom Callahan

Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons kicked off a three-game weekend set with a 5-2 win over the Motor City Rockers on Friday night at the Columbus Civic Center.

Columbus roared out to a 5-0 lead by the midway point of the third period on goals from Justin MacDonald, Carter Shinkaruk, Alex Storjohann, Austin Daae and Cody Wickline. 

Motor City did manage to tack on a pair of goals late in the third period from Danny Vanderwiel and Avery Smith for the 5-2 final.

Breandan Colgan made 21 saves to pick up his 21st win of the season while Trevor Babin made 37 stops in the loss.


  • Columbus remains the only team in the FPHL unbeaten at home in regulation with a 21-0-1 mark.
  • MacDonald’s league-record scoring streak is now at 35 straight games with a point. In that stretch he has 32 goals and 49 assists for 81 points.
  • Storjohann and Daae reached the 20-goal plateau, giving Columbus seven 20-goal scorers.

The same two teams go back at it tomorrow night at 7:05 pm and Sunday at 4:05 pm. Tickets are on sale now for all remaining River Dragons home games via the Civic Center Box Office and online at

Peach State Struggles Continue To Plague Rockers In 5-2 Loss

by Ben Szilagy

Columbus, GA - The Peach State struggles continued on Friday night for the Motor City Rockers who is playing the Columbus RiverDragons on the road for the first time this season.

Dating back to last season the Rockers have been outscored at the Columbus Civic Arena 14-2, while being shut out twice. Thanks to another strong start, Columbus beat Motor City 5-2 in the open game of a three game weekend series, spoiling Trevor Babin’s 100th career FPHL start. 

The RiverDragons struck first off a stretch pass by Kyle Moore with 8:32 left in the first period. The puck hit Ryan Hunter in stride as he slipped behind the Rocker defense and created a 2-on-1. 

At the last moment, he centered the puck to Justin MacDonald who roofed the puck past a sprawled Trevor Babin for a 1-0 lead. MacDonald now has 35-straight games with a point. 

Columbus doubled the lead three minutes later when Carter Shinkaruk fired a shot from the point that was deflected in front of the net off a Rocker stick for a 2-0 lead with 5:18 to play in the period. 

The lone goal of the second period belonged to Alex Storjohann who received a stretch pass from Sequoia Swan and took two steps into the offensive zone and rifled his 20th of the season for a 3-0 lead at the 6:02 mark of the middle frame. 

Columbus scored its fourth goal of the night on another deflected puck.

Alexander Jmaeff moved the puck from the nearside corner to the point where Shinkaruk stepped into a shot. As the puck darted through the air, Austin Daae deflected it in front of the net for a 4-0 lead midway through the third period. 

Two minutes later Cody Wickline collected a loose puck deep inside the Rocker zone for the RiverDragons’ fifth of the night and a 5-0 lead.

Rocker Forward Danny Vanderwiel broke Brendan Colgan’s shutout bid with 4:51 to play in the third when Declan Conway gathered a pass from Lane King and centered it for the Captain. The 5-1 power play goal breaks a four game scoring drought and is his sixth of the season. 

Avery Smith received his second goal in his first three games of his pro career when he took a pass from Nick Magill-Diaz and walked his way in between four Columbus defenders and scored a goal, 5-2, with 3:00 remaining in the game. 

The game was Trevor Babin’s 100th career start in the FPHL. The Philadelphia native stopped 35-of-42 shots he faced. 

Motor City and Columbus will play game two of a three game set on Saturday at 7:05pm.