Game Recaps for 3/27



by Zak DeBeaussaert

Columbus, GA - The Carolina Thunderbirds completed a two-game weekend sweep of the River Dragons on Saturday, winning by a score of 5-2.

Columbus got on the board first as Vojtech Zemlicka netted his first as a River Dragon 1:12 into the first period taking a loose puck from behind the net and coming out in front to fire home past Chris Paulin.

Carolina would battle back and take the lead back with goals from Fred Hein (7:34) and Tommy Tsicos (15:03) the latter of which came on a nice deflection from a Josh Koepplinger shot.

Columbus would respond quickly though. 2:08 later Ivan Bondarenko got one past Paulin on the far post and the game was tied right back in the later stages. However, Carolina would hold the lead into the locker room when Zach White found twine 1:26 after Bondarenko did to make it 3-2 Carolina through 20.

The second period was a stalemate on the scoreboard but it took a monumental effort from Jared Rutledge and the Columbus defense to keep it that way. Carolina at one point quintupled Columbus' shots 30-6 during the game, but the River Dragons defense kept Carolina at bay and kept the game 3-2 heading into the 3rd.

With a long amount of time between goals, it became clear on the ice the next goal was going to carry a lot of momentum for the team that scored it, and unfortunately for the home fans it was Carolina tallying a power play goal on a tic-ta-toe pass that David Brancik scored from in close. A late goal on a 2-on-1 from Jan Salak finished the scoring and Carolina leaves Columbus six points heavier on the weekend.

Chris Paulin gets his second win of the season, stopping 26 of 28 shots he faced. Jared Rutledge takes the loss with a 47 save effort on 52 shots.

The River Dragons now look forward to a 3-game set with the Port Huron Prowlers Thursday-Saturday at the Civic Center. Tickets available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster.


Elmira Forces Overtime and Wins 4-3, Pushes Hilliard Cup to 5-2

by Jonathan Kliment

One night after the FPHL announced the playoff format for this season as only the top two teams will vie for the Ignite Cup, Elmira came into the game leading the season series 4-2 as these two teams are battling to get to six wins first and capture the Hilliard Cup during the regular season. Knowing full well the Enforcers could put a stranglehold on the series with a weekend sweep both head coach Ahmed Mahfouz and Mighty Joe Young out there to start the game.

Port Huron hit the board first while extending their lead in league wide shorthanded goals as Steve Leonard intercepted a pass and headed down in a two on one, but didn’t need it as Leonard beat Young stick side for the 1-0 lead. It took a while ,but the Enforcers found the back of the net too after Elmira cleared their zone, Carter Shinkaruk was able to push the puck ahead, get around two Prowler defenseman and deke a puck through Kurt Gutting to tie the score at one a piece.

The Prowlers reclaimed their lead as Dalton Young tallied on the power play early in the second as Young crept in from the side boards and put it over the shoulder of Joe Young at 5:41 of the second period. Port Huron wasn’t done as Austin Fetterly took a pass from Justin Portillo and deposited it past Young for a 3-1 lead 71 seconds later. The Enforcers did find the board after that however, as on a stretch pass from Shinkaruk, Jonny Ruiz wristed a rocket past Gutting while the teams played four a side, to close the gap to 3-2 at 8:33 to go in the second period.

Elmira came back to tie the game 10:14 into the third as Alexis Girard ripped a shot off a face off win to tie the game as the teams were once again four on four. Each side had chances, but no one could capitalize and the clock ran out taking the game to three on three overtime.

In the extra frame back and forth action was on tap, but everything ended up going Elmira’s way after JT Walters was sprung on a breakaway and slipped the puck past Gutting to give Elmira the 4-3 win and a commanding 5-2 lead in the Hilliard Cup.

Joe Young stopped 27 of 30 to earn his third win of the season.

The Enforcers will be back in action at home on Friday April 2nd to kick off a three game series against the Carolina Thunderbirds at 7:05 pm.