Playoffs Game Recaps 4/20/24


Binghamton Eliminates Watertown with 7-2 W

by Brooks Hill

Binghamton, NY - The Binghamton Black Bears eliminated the Watertown Wolves from the Commissioners Cup Playoffs on Saturday, winning game two, 7-2. Binghamton advances and awaits their opponent in round two of the playoffs.

Opposite of the night before, Binghamton came out of the gate red hot. Connor Smith scored his first of the night with an individual effort off a blocked shot. Binghamton would take a penalty, but Dakota Bohn took advantage of the situation. Bohn grabbed a rebound off a shot from Kyle Stephan and settle the puck to wrist it by Bouchard, shorthanded. Watertown’s Ross Bartlett was able to deflect a puck into the net, getting the Wolves on the board but the Black Bears added another pair before the break. Don Olivieri scored on the power play and Smith recorded his second at 4on4. After the opening 20 minutes, Binghamton led 4-1.

Jesse Anderson started the second period were the first period concluded. Anderson’s first of the playoffs extended the lead to four, but the scoring run would end for the Black Bears. Tate Lesson tallied the second goal for the Wolves, cutting their deficit back to three. A couple of good follow-up shifts from Watertown came up empty handed, and Binghamton reclaimed their four-goal lead. Gavin Yates picked a corner on the short side of the net, scoring the sixth goal of the night for the Black Bears. The home team was feeling it, up 6-2 after 40.

Olivieri capped off the night with his second of the evening, converting the extra point against the Wolves. McAnanama stopped everything he saw in the third, capping off a 7-2 victory. 

Binghamton sweeps the playoff series 2-0, as they await their opponent for the second round.


Thunderbirds Stave Off Elimination against Port Huron, 4-2

Carolina comes from behind twice to take down Port Huron


by Brendan Reilly

Winston-Salem, NC - After trailing twice in Game Two of the Commissioners Cup Quarterfinals, the Carolina Thunderbirds scored three unanswered goals to force a Game Three against the Port Huron Prowlers, taking down Port Huron, 4-2, Saturday evening at the Fairgrounds Arena.


Port Huron struck early in the 1st period keeping the momentum rolling from its Game One victory. Conor Foley netted his second goal of the series at the 7:40 mark of the 1st period and the Prowlers held the advantage after 20 minutes.


In the 2nd period, Carolina needed to go to the dirty areas to breakthrough. Jan Salak forced himself to the top of the crease and got a pass from Gus Ford wrapping home his first goal of the postseason tying the game at one. The tie was short-lived as Chace McCardle tapped home a rebound 18 seconds later giving the visitors the advantage again, 2-1. 


Trailing and on the brink of elimination, the Thunderbirds responded. At the 14:28 mark of the 2nd, Josh Koepplinger jammed home his first goal of the postseason tying the game at two. Three minutes later, on a rebound from a shot from the point, Jacob Schnapp scored his second postseason goal at the 17:40 mark pushing the Thunderbirds ahead, 3-2, going to the 3rd. 


Starting the final frame 4-on-4, Koepplinger got his second of the night just 89 seconds in. Koepplinger snapped a shot off the crossbar and in doubling the Carolina advantage, 4-2. The Thunderbirds then coasted to a 4-2 victory forcing Game Three against Port Huron.


With two goals on the night, Koepplinger was named 1st star with Schnapp earning the 2nd star. Cody Karpinski was the 3rd star saving 20 out of 22 shots on the night. 


The Thunderbirds and Prowlers meet for the deciding Game Three on Sunday evening in Winston-Salem. Puck drop is set for 6 p.m. from the Fairgrounds Arena. 


by Will Wiegelman

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds tied their quarterfinal matchup with the Port Huron Prowlers at one game apiece with a 4-2 victory in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on April 20. The win for the Thunderbirds sets up a winner-take-all Game 3 on Sunday.

The Prowlers got the only goal of the opening period as Liam Freeborn caused a turnover on the forecheck and Conor Foley came out from behind the net and picked the short-side corner for his second goal of the playoffs.

Carolina turned up the pressure in the middle frame and got rewarded as a shot from the point was stopped but the rebound sat in the crease long enough for Jan Salak to slide it home. 18 seconds later though, Liam Freeborn made a power move to the net and the puck sat on the side of the crease for Chace McCardle to clean up. It was his first pro goal and it put Port Huron back ahead 2-1. 

A few minutes later, Oscar Wahlgren stopped most of a shot but the puck sat on the goal line long enough for Josh Koepplinger to shove into the net. Then, Jacob Schnapp put in a rebound and put Carolina ahead for the first time.

89 seconds into the third, Koepplinger stepped over the blue line and fired a long-range shot to the top of the net that gave the Thunderbirds some insurance. Carolina outshot Port Huron 38-12 in the final 40 minutes and 53-22 for the game.

Liam Freeborn had a pair of helpers for the Prowlers while Wahlgran made 49 saves.

Gus Ford dished out two assists for his second-straight multi-point game and Cody Karpinski got the win with 20 stops.

The series-deciding Game 3 is set for 6:00 P.M. in Winston-Salem on April 21. The game will be available live on the PHP Network YouTube channel.


Rockers Fall In Game 2 Behind Hat Tricks 4-2 Win

by Ben Szilagy

Fraser, MI - The Motor City Rockers home win streak was snapped, 4-2, by Danbury in an elimination game at Big Boy Arena on Saturday night. 

Game 3 will be Sunday at 5:05pm at Big Boy Arena as the winner of the series will take on the Binghamton Black Bears in the Empire Division Finals next week

Leading the way for the Hat Tricks was Kolby Johnson who secured two goals, including the game winning goal in his seventh game as a college signee. The Trinity Western Spartan opened the scoring with the lone goal in the first period when he roofed a centering pass from Nick DiNicola with 5:37 to play in the period for his first goal of the series.

His second goal, that would later prove to be the game winning goal, came at the 4:21 mark of the third period when he fired a shot from the far side circle from a shallow angle that beat Trevor Babin.

The Rockers answered Johnson’s goal, 1-1, at the 7:23 mark of the second period when TJ Sneath earned his second goal of the series after netting the game winner in overtime a night ago.

Forward Lane King centered the pass along the point to Josh Colten who ripped a shot at a screened Connor McCollum that was deflected by Sneath for his 21st of the season. Danbury regained the lead, 2-1, when Daniel McKitrick slipped into the slot, and scored as he fell to the ice for his second of the weekend with 7:35 to play in the second period.

Motor City pulled back within one, 3-2, on a power play goal by Colten at the 6:35 mark of the third period when Sneath carried the puck around the net and centered it to the slot for Colten’s quick blast. 

Danbury ended any chance of a comeback late in the third period when Jonny Ruiz intercepted a pass during a Rocker power play and netted a short-handed goal when he beat Babin with a back-hand shot for his second of the series and 40th of the season. 


by Doug Lattuca

Fraser, MI - The Hat Tricks knocked off the Rockers 4-2 on Saturday night in the second game of the best-of-three Empire Division Semifinals to create a win-and-advance scenario on Sunday. Rookie Kolby Johnson’s second goal of the game at 4:21 of the third period proved to be the game-winner while Jonny Ruiz added an insurance goal, shorthanded, at 17:09 to thwart Motor City’s comeback attempt.

At 14:23 of the first period, Johnson corralled the puck at the right circle and roofed it over the left shoulder of Rockers’ netminder Trevor Babin to open the scoring in a must-win Game 2 for the Hat Tricks.

7:22 through the second, Motor City forward TJ Sneath, who scored the overtime game-winner in Game 1 on Friday, deflected a point shot past Danbury’s goaltender Conor McCollum to even the score at 1-1. Five minutes later, Daniel McKitrick ripped a shot from the left circle over the glove of Babin and bar down to put the Hat Tricks back in the lead.

4:20 into the third frame, Johnson notched his second of the game on a wrist shot from the far side to push the lead to two. Two minutes later, the Rockers responded when defenseman Josh Colten wristed a point shot off of a Hat Trick and in. With time winding down and the Rockers on the power play with under three minutes remaining, Ruiz roofed a short-handed backhander over Babin’s glove for the insurance goal to extend the lead to 4-2.

Hat Tricks netminder Connor McCollum stopped 34 of 36 shots while Babin allowed 4 goals on 30 shots. 

The third and final game of the opening round series is Sunday at 5:05 p.m. at Big Boy Arena in Fraser, Michigan. The winner advances to the second round and plays Binghamton.