Prowlers Stun Enforcers 5-3, Cutting The Hilliard Cup Series To 3-1
by Jonathan Klment
After a 3-1 win a night ago to kick off the first three game road trip of the 2021 season, the Enforcers returned to action tonight at McMorran Arena to square off with the Port Huron Prowlers. Tonight's game marked the fourth game of the Hilliard Cup series and season series between the two sides, in this budding rivalry.
The first period was all Port Huron in the early stages. David Nippard picked up the puck just inside the blue line and slid it down to Matt Graham to the net's right who in turn dumped it to a waiting Yianni Liarakos who buried it by Dillon Kelly to give the Prowlers a 1-0 jump-start with just 4:42 having gone by. Next on a 4-on-2 break, it was Steve Leonard leading it over the offensive blue line and dropping a pass back to Thomas Munichiello. Munichiello fired a bullet glove side to the back of the net, doubling the Prowlers lead to 2-0 with 10:48 to go in the period.
The Enforcers clawed back within one as Kyle Gonzalez passed it on to over to Carter Shinkaruk, who in turn shoveled it to Jonny Ruiz. Ruiz never let up and after his first shot attempt smashed a leg pad, his second one was a missile over the shoulder of Nick Neidert to cut it to a 2-1 score. The Prowlers regarnered their two goal advantage with 3:35 till the break, when Michael Moran pulled the rubber off the side wall and slung it cross ice to Justin Portillo who danced in and buried it past Kelley, leaving the score at 3-1 Prowlers at 1st intermission.
Period 2 saw a handful of minor penalties hit the scoresheet, but neither side was able to converge in the middle period of play and the board still read 3-1 Prowlers after 40 minutes of action.
The final frame of the evening saw the momentum turn the Enforcers way early. With just 1:58 having ticked by, Tyler Gjurich ripped a shot off from the point that captain Glen Patterson picked up the rebound of net front; sending it past Neidert to cut the deficit to just 3-2. The fun wasn't going to stop there however. Brandon Tucker bolted into the offensive zone after a hit pass off the side wall from Gino Mini, absolutely ripping one by Nick Neidert to even the game at 3 apiece with 11:26 to go.
Port Huron managed to hold off the Enforcers valiant effort the rest of the way, lighting the lamp on the man advantage with 3:40 left in the game thanks to Alex Johnson to jump on top 4-3. Austin Fetterly would send one in to the empty net with 22.4 seconds remaining, and the Prowlers came away victorious 5-3.
Dillon Kelley stopped 35 of 39 in the Enforcers first regulation loss since February 14th, 2020.
The Elmira Enforcers and Port Huron Prowlers will battle one last time tomorrow to close out the 3-in-3 weekend at McMorran Arena in Game 5 of 10 in the Hilliard Cup series beginning at 3pm. Catch all the action live on YouTube and on mixlr!