by Zak DeBeaussaert
Columbus, GA - The River Dragons mounted a comeback effort worthy of a win, but the hole they dug was too deep and the Prowlers won on Thursday night 6-5.
Port Huron got on the board first showing off the league's best power play while doing so. After Matt Stoia made a great effort at the left point to hold the zone he made a pass to David Nippard and then a give-and-go with Nippard found Stoia in the slot and he sniped one top-left corner for a 1-0 lead. The Prowlers doubled their lead after a quick 2-on-1 developed with Austin Fetterly feeding Zack Zulkanycz for his 9th of the season.
The River Dragons got one back with a power-play tally of their own. CJ Hayes went forehand-backhand past a man and then went through Chris Paulin for a 2-1 game.
Then in the second period, it was a tale of two halves. Port Huron scored four straight goals from the 3:21 mark to the 12:29 mark of the second period. Dalton Jay had two goals that were bookends for goals scored by Justin Portillo and Matt Graham. Graham's goal would chase Cody Karpinski from the game at the 9:02 mark of the second.
After the game went 6-1 the River Dragons woke up and score three goals in a 2:28 span near the end of the middle frame. After Anton Lennartsson blasted one at Paulin in a good rush, the River Dragons kept the zone nicely and eventually, Lennartsson would feed Ivan Bondarenko who walked to the left circle and buried one across the grain for a 6-2 game. 35 seconds later MJ Graham pulled off one of the best dekes you'll see this season and backhanded the puck in and it was very quickly 6-3.
Chris Paulin was injured on the Graham goal but would battle through the rest of the period. He would give up another before the period ended though. Parker Moskal picked up a loose puck and showed off the fancy stickwork and backhanded a goal off the back bar and in for a 6-4 game after 40 minutes.
Port Huron was led out by newly acquired Michael Santaguida to start the third period and his night started shakily but ended tremendously. Jake Howie scored a wicked wrister 1:26 into the third to bring the game back within one. Unfortunately, for Columbus, this would be the end of the scoring. A couple of chances whizzed around and onto posts including a Vaughn Clouston shot that went off the glove of Santaguida and hit the base of the post and the rebound was eventually covered up.
The game finished 6-5, despite leaving with an injury Chris Paulin gets the win making 20 saves on 24 shots. Cody Karpinski takes the loss, he made 10 saves on 15 shots.
The same two teams go at it tomorrow with a 7:35 puck drop at the Civic Center. Pregame show on the Columbus River Dragons YouTube page and the River Dragons Radio Network is at 7:05
Three Stars of the Game
Dalton Jay (PTH)
Cameron Dimmitt
Austin Fetterly (PTH)