Saturday March 20th Game Recaps



by Zak DeBeaussaert

Columbus, GA - The Elmira Enforcers secured a win and all three points Saturday night, defeating the River Dragons by a score of 4-2.

Elmira jumped out in front late in the first period when Jonny Ruiz scored a slightly controversial goal after contact was made with River Dragons goaltender Jacob Caffrey as the puck crossed the line. While there was protesting from the River Dragons players and crowd at the Civic Center, Ruiz's goal stood as his 7th of the year and the Enforcers took a 1-0 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes.

The Enforcers then doubled their lead as Mark Essery put in his first of the year on a backdoor play set up by Alexis Girard from the right-wing corner. The goal seemed to light a fire in the River Dragons though who began to start setting up better offensive chances against Elmira's Dillon Kelley. Their pressure would result in a goal after a delayed call against Elmira set them up with a 6-on-5 advantage and Connor Fries cashed in after Vojtech Zemlicka set him up with a pass in the slot to send home.

The deficit remained one for the River Dragons but if the goal was a breath of fresh air for the crowd, a tornado would envelop the arena comparatively with 11.2 seconds to go in the frame. After a net front scrum in front of Jacob Caffrey pushes and shoves were exchanged and a few guys fell to the ice as the clans gathered in the crease. Then from across the way Caffrey challenged Dillon Kelley and the Danbury loanee accepted the challenge and the two met at center ice for a goalie fight. The crowd was electric in the Civic Center and despite the 2-1 deficit the River Dragons bench was buzzing heading into the third.

That momentum carried the River Dragons to tie up the game when Gehrett Sargis sniped one over Joe Young (replacing Kelley post-fight) 1:15 into the third period from the right circle. However, Elmira's Everett Thompson would give the Enforcers back the lead for good with a goal 45 seconds later.

A late power play opportunity for the Dragons went by the wayside and as time dwindled down Jackson Tucker found an angle past Jared Rutledge (replacing Caffrey post-fight) for the sealing goal and the final scoreline.

Joe Young gets credit for the win with five saves on six shots. Dillon Kelley in his start made 22 saves out of 23 possible. Jared Rutledge took the loss in relief stopping 10 of 12 shots he saw. Prior to his ejection, Jacob Caffrey made 17 saves on 19 Elmira shots.

The same two teams play a rubber match on Sunday, 4:05 puck drop at the Civic Center. Pregame show starts at 3:35 and tickets are still available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster.

Three Stars of the Game

Alexis Girard

Gehrett Sargis

Jackson Tucker

Enforcers Stun Columbus 4-2

by Jonathan Kliment

The Elmira Enforcers dropped a tough affair 5-1 at the hands of the Columbus River Dragons on Friday night and came back to the Columbus Civic Center tonight for the second of a three game in three day series in search of a big victory. 

Period 1 began slow until with 16:07 having passed by, Alexis Girard fed the puck from the back of the right wing circle after a dump in from Carter Shinkaruk to the front of the net where it was corralled and lifted in by Jonny Ruiz to make the score 1-0 in favor of Elmira. 

The visitors recieved a quick jump start in the 2nd period when on a 3-on-1 break info the offensive end, Alexis Girard came up clutch again in the assist department slinging one ahead to a streaking Mark Essery who forehanded it by Jacob Caffrey to stretch the lead to 2-0 just 6:37 in to the period. Columbus quickly got one back as Connor Fries netted one with just over 8 minutes to go until the 2nd break, bringing it to a 2-1 game after 40. With less than a minute to go there was quite a bit of pushing back and forth and eventually for the first time in Enforcers history there was a goalie fight meaning backups Joe Young and Jared Rutledge would appear in net.

The 3rd period was quite entertaining. Gehrett Sargis kicked off the scoring just 1:15 in to the frame to even it up 2-2, before Everett Thompson outwaited Rutledge and snuck it by him to give Elmira a 3-2 advantage. Brandon Tucker iced the game with another tally with just 33 seconds remaining in the contest, and the 4-2 score went final. 

Dillon Kelley stopped 22 of 23 shots & Joe Young threw aside 5 of 6 earning the win.

The Enforcers and River Dragons close out their three game weekend and five game season series tomorrow at 4:05pm. Tune in live on YouTube and Mixlr.



Thunderbirds Down Prowlers Again

by Drew Blevins

PORT HURON, Mich.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, defeated the Port Huron Prowlers 5-1 Saturday night.

“We had an okay start,” said head coach Andre Niec, “but we still need a 60-minute effort.”

Carolina started quickly, notching all five goals in the first period.

Petr Panacek opened the scoring just 3:17 into the game. Panacek has now scored three goals in two games, but he would exit e game in the second period due to a facial injury.

Seconds later, Zach White scored his second of the season.

Midway through the period, Tommy Cardinal, the youngest player in the league, scored his first professional goal.

“I was so happy,” said Cardinal, “it felt so good.”

Fred Hein chased starter Nick Neidert less than 12 minutes in on the powerplay and the Jan Salak potted his second of the year on Kurt Gutting.

Thunderbirds goalie Chris Paulin made 27 saves on 28 shots, the lone blemish a power play goal from Yianni Liarakos.

Carolina slides into third place in the league and advances to 2-4-1-1. Port Huron falls to 3-7-0-1 and now is the cellar of the league.

The two teams face off tomorrow at three for the final meeting between the two teams this season.