Playoffs Game Recaps 4/19/24


River Dragons Advance

by Tom Callahan

Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons closed out their Continental Division Semifinal series with an 8-0 win over the Mississippi Sea Wolves on Friday night at the Columbus Civic Center.

A scoreless first period gave way to Columbus finally breaking the deadlock 3:50 into the second period when Austin Daae tipped a point shot from Nathan Balkwill past Joe Sheppard (38 saves) for his first of two goals on the night. Justin MacDonald (2-1-3) and Cody Wickline (1-0-1) would both score before the end of the period, but perhaps the tipping point of the game happened at 13:40 when Mississippi appeared to score a goal but it was waved off for a kicking motion. Instead of 2-1, the game would go to 3-0 when Wickline scored less than a minute later.

Columbus poured on five goals in the third, with both Daae and MacDonald notching their second of the night plus singles from Ryan Hunter, Alex Storjohann and Alex Jmaeff.

Breandan Colgan made 20 saves for the shutout and his second straight win.


  • Columbus scored 15 goals in the series after having topped the six-goals-or-more plateau 20 times in the regular season.
  • Daae, Storjohann and MacDonald led the way with three goals each in the series.
  • Breandan Colgan stopped 20 saves for the shutout, and in the series posted a .961 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average.
  • Kyle Moore posted three assists in the game for his first points of the playoffs.
  • Storjohann and Daae lead the team in overall scoring with six points.

The River Dragons now await the winner of the Carolina Thunderbirds vs. Port Huron Prowlers series. Columbus has home ice advantage through the remainder of the Commissioners Cup Playoffs. Tickets are on sale for all remaining River Dragons playoff games through the Civic Center Box Office and online at


Wolves Drop Game 1

by Jeff Barrett

Watertown, NY - The second season started tonight in the Watertown Municipal Arena, as the Empire Division champs, the Binghamton Black Bears, visited the Watertown Wolves for game one of their quarterfinals matchup.

Watertown would strike first as Trevor Lord took advantage of a Black Bears line change, receiving a stretch pass from Tate Leeson at 4:48 of the period, putting the Wolves up 1-0.

Mike Mercurio added to the Wolves lead at the 14:15, stuffing the puck under Connor McAnanama making the score 2-0. Ross Bartlett and Josh Tomasi had the assists on the goal.

Binghamton outshot Watertown 13-12 in the first, but Watertown took the 2-0 lead to the room.

It didn't take long in the second for the Black Bears to come storming right back and tie the score. First it would be Kyle Stephan at the 2:14 mark assisted by Gavin Yates and Jesse Anderson making the score 2-1.

Just :43 later Colan Fitzgerald would also find the back of the net, beating Spencer Kozlowski and tying the score at 2 each. Assists on the goal belonged to Blake Tosto and Tyson Kirkby.

Binghamton continued to out shoot Watertown 19-8 in the second.

Binghamton added two more goals in the third to take game number one of the series.

The goals in the third belonged to Dakota Bohn at the 1:40 mark for a power play goal, assisted by Tyson Kirkby and Austin Thompson.

Ath the 10:34 mark. Gavin Yates found himself alone in front of the goal and slapped home a shot off a rebound, to extend the Black Bears lead to 4-2.

Binghamton outshot Watertown 47 - 28 for the game, and took the 4-2 win.

Game number two will move to the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton on Saturday night at 7:00.

Game 3 if necessary will be Sunday evening at 6:00 also in Binghamton.


by Brooks Hill

Watertown, NY - The Binghamton Black Bears defeated the Watertown Wolves 4-2 on Friday night. The Black Bears scored the final four goals of the contest to complete the comeback after being down 0-2 after the opening period.

The Quarterfinals began up in Watertown with the Wolves hosting game one of the series. It was indeed the home team who came out of the gates firing. Trevor Lord scored the game’s opening goal just four minutes in, and it was followed by Michael Mercurio, making it 2-0 Wolves. Binghamton trailed by a pair at the first break.

Special teams started to play a factor in the second period for the remainder of the night. Binghamton was able to score two, 4on4 goals from Kyle Stephan and Colan Fitzgerald. The Black Bears had captured all the momentum and did not look back. They went to the locker room tied at 2-2, with the ice tilted in their favor. 

In the third, Binghamton managed to score their only power play goal of the night. Dakota Bohn hunted down a loose puck and was able to one-time the puck into the net. Binghamton had their first lead of the night, less than two minutes into the period. Gavin Yates was looking for more as he knotted a rebound goal from Stephan with 9:30 left in the game, putting the Black Bears up by a pair.

The PK was tested in the third, killing off another 5on3, and Connor McAnanama stood tall, stopping the final 20 shots he saw. Binghamton wins in Watertown 4-2 and takes a 1-0 series lead. 

Game two of the series will be in Binghamton on Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm.   



by Will Wiegelman

Port Huron, MI - The Port Huron Prowlers held on for a 3-2 win over the Carolina Thunderbirds in Game 1 of their Commissioner’s Cup Quarterfinals matchup at McMorran Place on April 19. The win is the Prowlers’ first in the playoffs since 2018.

“I thought that was one of the most complete games we played all year,” said Prowlers head coach Matt Graham. “We played very disciplined, not only staying out of the box but also with our structure. I thought it paid off well for the guys.”

Early in the first, Gus Ford deflected a shot from the point. The puck landed in the crease and he put it home. After a long discussion, referees Jonathan Sitarski and Jonathan Paradise ruled that it was knocked down with a high stick and the goal was waved off. A minute later, Dalton Jay cut off a clearing attempt and gave it to Dominic Loubert at the point. He let a wrister go that beat Mario Cavaliere to the blocker side and opened the scoring for real. 

“The reversal of that goal was huge,” Graham said. “Getting that overturned and then having the opportunity for [Loubert] to come in and take a shot was a huge momentum swing for us.”

That 1-0 score held into the second when Conor Foley picked off an outlet pass, danced around Tucker Firth and went top shelf to double the Port Huron advantage. 

Just as the clock hit the final minute of the middle period, Joe Kennedy sent a shot through that Makar Sokolov got a piece of but not enough as Carolina got on the board.

“The message in the locker room [after the second] was that we strayed away from what we were talking about as a group,” Graham said. “They got an opportunity and they cashed in on it. We played a little too much in the defensive zone that period and our messaging was to get back to what made us successful in the first and we did and had success in the third.”

The Prowlers dominated the beginning part of the third and got rewarded as Vincent Dekumbis’ shot off a turnover deflected off of Dan Chartrand and in to restore the two-goal lead.

Gus Ford scored a power-play marker later in the stanza but Port Huron held strong from there to get the win.

Dekumbis, Frank Schumacher and Dalton Jay got an assist each while Sokolov made 25 saves in his first career playoff start.

Ford added an assist to his goal while Josh Koepplinger and Clay Keeley each chipped in a helper. Cavaliere stopped 28 shots in the loss.

The Prowlers will have a chance to win the series in Game 2 in Winston-Salem on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 P.M. The game will be streamed live on the PHP Network YouTube channel.

“The mindset is that this is in the past,” Graham said. “We show up tomorrow with the same attitude and mindset that we showed up with today.”

Carolina Falls in Game One to Port Huron, 3-2

Thunderbirds rally comes up short


by Brendan Reilly

Port Huron, MI - The Carolina Thunderbirds dropped Game One of the Commissioners Cup Quarterfinals to the Port Huron Prowlers, 3-2, Friday evening at McMorran Arena. 


Port Huron struck first in the 1st period 5:32 into the game. Dominic Loubert beat Carolina netminder, Mario Cavaliere, on a shot from the point to give the home side a 1-0 advantage. Port Huron held that lead going into the 2nd period when the Prowlers doubled their advantage. 


Conor Foley made it 2-0 on an unassisted goal at the 6:02 mark and the Thunderbirds needed a response. Carolina got its response with one minute remaining in the 2nd. Joe Kennedy fired a slapshot from the top of the slot that worked its way through Makar Sokolov cutting the Port Huron lead in half, 2-1, going to the 3rd. 


In the 3rd period, the Prowlers answered 80 seconds into the period on a shot deflecting off Dan Chartrand at the top of the crease, making it 3-1. At the 12:29 mark in the period, Carolina went on the power play and capitalized. Gus Ford walked to the top of the dots and snapped a shot past Sokolov, making it 3-2 with 6:18 remaining in regulation. 


Now with momentum, Carolina continued to pressure and pulled Cavaliere with two minutes remaining but could never find an equalizer as the Thunderbirds fell in Game One, 3-2. 


The Thunderbirds and Prowlers meet for Game Two on Saturday evening back in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with the Thunderbirds on the brink of elimination. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. from the Fairgrounds Arena. 




by Doug Lattuca

Danbury, CT - The Hat Tricks were topped by the Rockers 3-2 in overtime in the opening game of the best-of-three Empire Division Semifinals. TJ Sneath buried the game-winner at 16:24 of the extra period to secure Motor City’s first postseason victory in franchise history.

The loss ends the Hat Tricks’ six game playoff win streak at home and pushes the Rockers’ win streak to five.

With just 3:39 left in the first period, Hat Tricks assistant captain Daniel McKitrick lifted the puck over the glove of Trevor Babin off a rebound for the opening goal of the series. Hat Tricks netminder Conor McCollum fought off 17 shots in a goalless first period for the Rockers.

At 9:28 in the second, Team MVP Jonny Ruiz scored on a breakaway, backhanding the puck to the top left corner to extend the lead to 2-0. The Rockers answered at 11:58 on a point shot from Declan Conway that was deflected by Lane King. About a minute later, the Hat Tricks had a goal waved off after Babin smothered the puck on the goal line.

9:31 into the third, Motor City’s Josh Colten tied the game with a wrister from the right point with McCollum screened to pull even at 2-2. The game stayed deadlocked for the remainder of regulation.

After three periods of play, the Hat Tricks outshot the Rockers 52-42.

With 3:36 left in overtime, Sneath received a pass in the low slot and snapped it over the outstretched glove of McCollum to take game one on the road. 

The Hat Tricks attempt to tie the series at one on Saturday night at Big Boy Arena in Fraser, Michigan. The puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m. 

Motor City Earns Game 1 Win In OT Behind Babin's 61 Save Night

by Ben Szilagy

Danbury, CT - Game 1 of the 2023-24 FPHL Playoffs between the Motor City Rockers and Danbury Hat Tricks was an instant classic thanks to incredible goaltending play by Motor City’s Trevor Babin and Danbury’s Connor McCollum.

Both Goaltenders stopped a combined 109 shots throughout the night; Babin stopping a season high 61 shots, and McCollum stopping 48. 

It was the Rockers that came away with a 3-2 overtime win in the final 3:36 of the extra frame to earn a 1-0 series lead in a best of three.

Rockers Forward Lane King held off an icing as he raced Danbury’s Connor Bedard into the offensive zone. King took over the rock behind the net, and fed it to the farside of the ice to Josh Colten who feathered a perfect centering pass to TJ Sneath on the opposite side post for a wide open game winning goal.

Motor City will host Game 2 on Saturday at 7:35pm at Big Boy Arena and Game 3, if necessary, on Sunday at 5:00pm.

Leading up to the overtime period, it was a game of runs as Danbury jumped out to a 2-0 lead through two periods. 

Motor City was able to hold the Hat Trick offense in check as the Rockers killed two power plays throughout the first period, but a rebound goal gave the Hat Tricks the early lead.

Danbury started its attack after Steve Brown slid the puck onto the stick of Chase Harwell in the neutral zone. Harwell walked it deep into the Rocker end and fired a shot for a rebound as he entered the nearside circle. Daniel McKitrick quickly jumped on the rebound and put away the game’s first goal with 3:40 remaining in the period.

Danbury extended its lead midway through the second period when Michael Falanga chipped the puck to Jacob Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe chipped the puck past the blueline and onto the stick of a crashing Jonny Ruiz. Ruiz gathered the puck in between the hashes, and roofed a back-hand for a 2-0 lead. 

The Rockers wouldn’t be shutout, however, earning a goal off a face off draw in the offensive zone two minutes later. 

Sneath won the draw and pushed the puck behind him to Declan Conway. Conway ripped a shot that was deflected by Lane King and went past McCollum to cut into the lead, 2-1, with 8:01 remaining. 

Jonathan Juliano almost came away with a short-handed goal that would have tied the game near the close of the second period but his shot rang off the crossbar with under ten-seconds to play. 

In the third period, the Rockers finished erasing the deficit off the stick of Jost Colten. 

Motor City controlled a rebound in the offensive zone on the stick of Lane King. He slid the puck along the wall to Mike Winn at the point on the nearside. Winn then passed the puck along the blue line to Colten who offered a quick wrister that McCollum didn’t see for a 2-2 game midway through the final frame.