by Doug Lattuca

Danbury, CT - The Hat Tricks speared the River Sharks 8-1 Sunday afternoon in the final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Hat Tricks scored six special teams goals, four on the power play and two shorthanded, en route to their 30th victory of the season. All but six of Danbury’s skaters notched a point while forward Daniel McKitrick posted a game-high four points (1g, 3a).

With the win, the Hat Tricks now find themselves two points behind Motor City for second place in the Empire Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

6:22 into the first period, captain Jonny Ruiz slapped the puck past River Sharks netminder Samuel LiVecchi to open the scoring. Ruiz’s team-high 11th power play goal put the Hat Tricks up 1-0. At 13:35, River Sharks forward Davide Gaeta tapped in a backdoor pass from Antoine Gignac to tie the game up. With four minutes remaining, Jacob Ratcliffe roofed a net-side feed from Charlie Bedard for the shorthanded goal and a 2-1 advantage. With less than a minute left in the period, Chase Harwell cashed in on the power play to push the lead to two. 

In the second period, the Hat Tricks grabbed another three goals, two on the man advantage and one shorthanded. Corey Cunningham one-timed the puck through the pads of LiVecchi, Harwell deflected a point shot to bring the score to 5-1, and Bohdan Zinchenko, with 2:20 left, was sprung on a breakaway to extend the lead to 6-1.

3:19 into the third, Kyle Gonzalez made it 6-1 on a snapshot from the slot. With 12:14 remaining, McKitrick shoveled home the short-handed give-and-go goal to conclude the scoring.

Hat Tricks netminder Connor McCollum made 39 saves on 40 shots, while LiVecchi allowed eight on 53 shots.

Danbury closes out the regular season at home on Friday, April 12 against Binghamton. The puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.


River Dragons Down Sea Wolves 9-5

by Wesley Barnett

Biloxi, MS -  Sunday afternoon in Biloxi, Mississippi, the Mississippi Sea Wolves host the Columbus River Dragons for their final regular season home game. 

The first 10 minutes of the contest went back and forth, neither team finding the back of the net. Assisted by Austin Daae and Josh Pietrantonio, Jay Croop started it off for the Thunderbirds. Sequoia Swan scored shortly after bringing the lead to 2. A clear out pass brought Joe Sheppard out of the goal to play it. His pass was intercepted and quickly fired into the net for a quick score. Making it 3-0. In his first game following a two game suspension, Justin Barr took shot a deflection off his shoulder which bounced into the net for the first goal for the Sea Wolves making it 3-1 to end the first period. 

Matt Stoia carried the momentum from the final minutes of the first period into the second with a one timer goal bringing the score to 3-2. The River Dragons would then begin their offensive clinic. Jay Croop and Cody Wickline net an even strength goal each to make it 5-2. After a game misconduct penalty from the Sea Wolves Justin Portillo and a Lucas Helland cross check, the River Dragons would score 2 back to back power play goals. Just when the 2nd period was coming to an end, Jay Croop netted his 3rd goal of the evening bringing the total to 8-2. 

Nolan Slachetka continued the offense for the River Dragons stretching the lead 9-2. The Sea Wolves would refuse to go quietly. Stoia would answer with his 2nd goal of the night followed by goals from Dmitry Kusnetsov and Lucas Helland to end the night 9-5. 

Joseph Sheppard started the night saving 10 shots on 13 attempts. Austyn Melin would take over in the second period saving 27 shots on 33 attempts. Hunter Virostek saved 38 shots on 43 attempts. 

Columbus River Dragons went 3/9 on power plays. Mississippi Seawolves 0/7.

Croop Leads River Dragons to Victory

by Tom Callahan

Biloxi, MS -  Jay Croop posted three goals and an assist to lead the Columbus River Dragons offense in a 9-5 victory over the Mississippi Sea Wolves on Sunday afternoon at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum.

Columbus surged out to a 3-0 first period lead on goals by Croop, Sequoia Swan and Josh Pietrantonio. Mississippi would respond with one before the break, and then made it 3-2 just 26 seconds into the second period on Matt Stoia’s first of two on the game.

From there, however, the River Dragons exploded for five goals in the second, finishing the period with an 8-2 lead and putting the game out of reach for the Sea Wolves.

Austin Daae and Ryan Hunter each posted three assist games, while Pietrantonio and Moore each scored once and added a pair of assists in the win.


  • Rookie goaltender Hunter Virostek won his second straight start to begin his pro career. He stopped 38 shots for the win.
  • Croop’s hat trick was his first of the season.
  • The nine goals in the game by the River Dragons is the team’s second-highest output all year, falling short of the 11 goals against the Baton Rouge Zydeco on February 16, 2024.
  • The game marked the fourth time this season Columbus scored three power play goals in a game, tying the season high.
  • The River Dragons close the season series with the Sea Wolves 11-0-1.
  • Rookie Hugh Anderson scored his first professional goal with a power play marker in the second period.

The River Dragons will now round out the 2024 FPHL regular season this week with three straight games against the Carolina Thunderbirds, starting on the road Thursday and Friday and returning home Saturday, April 13 at 7:05 pm. It’s Fan Appreciation Night with plenty of prizes and giveaways, plus it’s the final Chick-fil-A Midland/Kissin’ 99.3 Family Four Pack Night! Go to for more information.


 Black Bears Down Wolves in OT

by Jeff Barrett

Watertown, NY With the 7-2 loss last night to the River Sharks, the Wolves found themselves in a must win situation coming into tonight's game, to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

The Wolves would strike first when Carter Thornton took a pass and raced to the offensive end beating Sammy Bernhard for a short handed goal, giving Watertown a 1-0 lead at the 12:53 mark. Assists on the goal went to Vladislav Pavlov and Declan Flanagan.

Cameron Yarwood was able to tie the score on a blast from the right point beating Eloi Bouchard through the legs at 14:23 assisted by Kyle Powell.

The period ended 1-1 with the Wolves out shooting Elmira 17-7 in the frame.

Mike Mercurio started the second period with a power play goal at just :38 in, giving Watertown a 2-1 lead. Trevor Lord was credited with an assist on the goal.

The score would once again get knotted up at 2 each when Dustin Jesseau scored at 15:01 of the period assisted by Cody Rogers and Rasmus Asp.

Watertown again out shot the River Sharks in the second, this time 17-12, with the period ending tied at 2-2.

At 2:05 of the third period, Carter Thornton netted his second goal giving the Wolves a 3-2 lead, assisted by Jake Black and Chase DiBari.

Once again the River Sharks battled right back as Trevor Neumann scored, knotting the game at 3 each at the 3:05 mark. Brett Parker would get the assist.

At 13:43 of the period Jake Black would score his first goal for Watertown breaking the tie and putting Watertown ahead for good. Assisted by Trevor Lord and Gehrig Linberg

The Wolves are right back in action on Sunday night as they host the Binghamton Black Bears in a 7:05 tilt. For Elmira, they are off to Danbury, Ct for a 3:00 matchup against the Hat Tricks.