by Zak DeBeaussaert
Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons snapped their recent slump with a strong effort on home ice defeating the Port Huron Prowlers by a score of 9-1.
Columbus scored the first five goals of the game through the opening 40 minutes. Led off in the first period by the familiar line of Josh Pietrantonio, Austin Daae and Hunter Bersani. The first goal belonged to Daae, set up by Bersani underneath the goal line as he sent a one-timer home just after a River Dragons power play had expired. Minutes later, Bersani didn't have to sweat the penalty clock as he fired one off the base of the post and in past Port Huron starter Richard Shipman to make it 2-0 on the power play. Pietrantonio would make it 3-0 with just 20 seconds left in the period securing his own rebound and roofing it past Shipman for his 23rd of the year.
The River Dragons would keep piling on in the second, newly signed Kirk Underwood got his first goal as a pro batting one out of the air for a 4-0 lead, then Adam Vannelli fired a cannon off of a Josh Pietrantonio feed circle to circle to make the game 5-0.
In the third period Port Huron was playing to get an early goal and capitalize on some momentum to try and cut into the lead, and succeeded with Dalton Jay sniping the top-right corner over Bailey MacBurnie to make the game 5-1.
A minute or so after the Jay goal, Port Huron and Columbus had an undercard/main event fight combo with two straight faceoffs resulting in tilts. First Levi Armstrong and Brennan Young scrapped with Armstrong connecting a few of the only punches thrown before they both tumbled to the ice. Then the big boys got into the mix with Nick Williams and Justin Schmit trading heavy shots that seemed to stun both at different times before Schmit toppled Williams to end the fight.
After two straight fights, we went right back to hockey and the River Dragons went right back to scoring. Precision passing was the name of the game as MJ Graham found two goals in the third period sitting at the top of the crease, and Daae had one go off of him and in from a centering pass from Pietrantonio to make it 8-1. Graham would return the favor with a pass to Marquis Grant-Mentis who got his 4th goal of the year to give the game its final score of 9-1.
Bailey MacBurnie gets the win with a 23-save night. Richard Shipman takes the loss with 18 saves on 24 shots before being replaced by Greg Harney who made 4 of 7 stops.
The same two teams battle it out again tomorrow night at the Civic Center. 7:30 puck drop means a 7:00 pregame show on the Columbus River Dragons broadcast network. The Saturday night game will also be carried on WTVM Bounce 9.2! Tickets for the game available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster.