Prowlers Squeak Out A 2-1 Victory, Hilliard Cup Series Now 3-2
by Jonathan Kliment
The Elmira Enforcers and Port Huron Prowlers squared up one last time to close out their 3-in-3 weekend this afternoon at McMorran Arena. The Prowlers held off a valiant 3rd period push from Elmira a night ago, coming away victorious 2-1, pulling the Hilliard Cup series back to a 3-2 margin in favor of the New York natives ahead of today's Game 5.
With a pair of Enforcers in the box in the early stages of the game, just :57 in to the opening period it was Matt Graham bouncing the rubber off the sidewall and sending a pass cross-ice to David Nippard, who in turn fed the puck to Alex Johnson at the top of the right-wing circle, as he ripped it glove side by Troy Passingham to give Port Huron a 1-0 advantage. Just a few minutes later, with 14:23 remaining in the first frame, the Enforcers turned the puck over in the neutral zone and were beat back the opposite way on a 3-on-1 Prowlers surge. Yianni Liarakos connected on a beauty of a drop pass to Dave Nippard, as Nippard was able to send a laser by Passingham to stretch the Port Huron lead out to 2-0 which is all the offense the board would see through the opening 20.
In the second period, tensions continued to boil over and a couple of brawls occured with a handful of penalties being assessed to each side. Neither side was able to light the lamp in the middle frame however, as the Enforcers continued to grip and claw for offensive chances, only having put up 26 shots in 40 minutes as the Port Huron lead continued to be 2-0.
The offense remained quiet throughout the 3rd until a dominant shift from the Essery-Gravelle-Ortiz trio turned in to a goal. With 5:54 left in the game, Marcus Ortiz flicked the puck net front from behind the cage to Brett Gravelle who was able to send a wrister toppling in to Kurt Gutting's cage to pull the deficit back to just 2-1. Despite a late push, the Enforcers were not able to find the tying goal, dropping it by that same 2-1 final. The Prowlers win pulled the Hilliard Cup Series a game closer, but the advantage still stays with Elmira, 3-2, with 5 games remaining in the season series.
Troy Passingham turned away 30 of 32 shots in the loss.
The Enforcers return to action on Wednesday, March 17th on First Arena ice to do battle with the rivals of the south, the Carolina Thunderbirds, at 7:05pm. Catch all the action live on YouTube or Mixlr.com.