Sunday March 21st Game Recaps






by Zak DeBeaussaert

Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons stormed back from a 3-goal deficit in the 3rd period and defeated the Elmira Enforcers in overtime on Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-4.

Elmira was in control in the first two periods of the game but it was Columbus who got on the board first when Gehrett Sargis sniped the top-left corner over Dillon Kelley at the 8:13 mark of the first. After that though, Elmira scored four straight through the first and second periods and continued to dictate the pace of play.

Brett Gravelle tied the game up at the 13:43 mark of the first period with a weird pinball bounce off of skates and the post to get his 6th of the season. Less than two minutes later, Blake Peavey found the back of the net to give Elmira a 2-1 lead over the Dragons going into the locker room.

Elmira would then continue to extend their lead when Gravelle found his second of the night 3:11 into the second. Midway through the middle frame a power play for Elmira netted Glen Patterson his second goal of the year after he camped out in front of Jared Rutledge and sent one home for a 4-1 lead that would last through 40 minutes.

The River Dragons were determined to get something out of the game though and came storming back in the third period, and spearheading the charge were a couple of offensive defenseman.

First, Nate O'Brien went coast-to-coast and around a few Enforcers defenders on the way to sliding a puck 5-hole and in for a 4-2 game 2:19 into the 3rd. The early goal got the Columbus legs moving and they drew a man advantage that Matt O'Dea would cash in on at the 6:21 mark of the period. Both defenseman's goals brought the Dragons within one.

As the game dwindled down though, Elmira was able to hunker down and keep their one-goal lead until the 16:39 mark of the period when CJ Stubbs drove the net and Vojtech Zemlicka put the puck right on his tape for a quick tap-in goal and a 4-4 game with just a few minutes to go.

Elmira re-composed themselves in the overtime frame winning a strong majority of the faceoffs and holding the puck for long chunks of the extra period. However, a turnover caused by Josh Pietrantonio sprang him and O'Dea on a 2-on-1 rush and the young defenseman made no mistake on the pass across from the Columbus captain to give the River Dragons two of the three points on the night.

Jared Rutledge got the overtime win for the Dragons, he stopped 27 of 31 shots in the contest. Dillon Kelley takes the overtime loss (his 3rd of the season) and made 43 saves on 48 River Dragons shots.

Columbus now looks forward to a two-game set with the Carolina Thunderbirds at the Civic Center on Friday and Saturday night. Friday's puck drop is at 7:35 and Saturday's puck drop is at 6:05. Tickets available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster, and Saturday's game will be shown on WTVM (9.1) locally over-the-air in the Chattahoochee Valley.

Three Stars of the Game

Matt O'Dea

Nate O'Brien

Josh Pietrantonio

Enforcers Drop Finale to River Dragons, 5-4 in Overtime

by Jonathan Kliment

The Enforcers and River Dragons met for the final time in the regular season on Sunday. Columbus Civic Center played host to the final three meetings between the teams as the first two played at First Arena resulted in a split of shootout wins.

In the first period the River Dragons pushed the pressure early outshooting Elmira 6-2 when the first goal passed by Dillon Kelley as Ivan Bondarenko and Gehrett Sargis rushed into the zone in a two on one and as Bondarenko moved it across Sargis was able to bury it past Kelley for the 1-0 lead. The lead stood for five minutes before Brett Gravelle employed the old “throw everything at the net” and as he did from inside the right circle the puck bounced off a Columbus defender and into the back of the net to tie up the game. Less than two minutes later the Enforcers took the lead after a battle in the neutral zone saw Blake Peavey push the puck into the zone carrying it into the right circle and slapping it past Jared Rutledge to give Elmira the 2-1 lead.

The second period saw Elmira expand on their lead after a faceoff win was moved over to Brett Gravelle for his second of the night off a beautiful forehand backhand that he put past Rutledge at 3:11 of the second period to extend the lead to 3-1. The lead continued to build as the Enforcers power play, which has struggled in the first half of the season found the back of the net after controlling the zone for an entire minute of the power play Mitch Atkins found Glen Patterson in front of the net and a perfect tip in front of the net gave Elmira a 4-1 lead which they took to the locker room after 40 minutes.

The third period took a turn as the River Dragons scored two quick goals before the first media time out as Nate O’Brien and Matt O’Dea were both able to beat Dylan Kelley. The Enforcers held on a long as they could but too many shots resulted in a game tying goal being scored at 16:39 by CJ Stubbs on a perfect pass from Vojtech Zemlicka sending the game to overtime.

The extra period went 4:37 with a lot of back and forth, but Matt O’Dea scored his second of the game and ended both the game and the series with a Columbus win.

Dylan Kelley stopped 43 of 48 in the loss.

The Enforcers are back in action on Friday night in Port Huron at 7:30 pm and that game will be live on Youtube live and Mixlr.


Thunderbirds First Shutout of the Season; Sweep the Prowlers

by Drew Blevins

PORT HURON, Mich.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, earned their first shutout win of the season on Sunday afternoon, blanking the Port Huron Prowlers 6-0.

“We are professionals,” said head coach Andre Niec, “we stayed out of trouble and I thought we executed well.”

After a rough and tumble first period, Tommy Tsicos opened the scoring 3:37 into the second period and just moments later Petr Panacek would make it 2-0.

Keeping the train rolling, Carolina scored on the powerplay when Jan Salak bullied his way to the front of the net. Salak would also bury another one in the period ballooning the lead to 4-0.

The second period was earmarked with aggression. Josh Koepplinger, Henry Berger, Zach White and Dominik Fejt dropped the gloves for Carolina while it was the Leonard brothers, Austin Fetterly and Yianni Liarakos throwing down for Port Huron.

“[Fetterly] had been asking me to go all game,” said White, “and I was waving him off but when he had me I started throwing and I thought I held my own out there.”

In the third period, Salak deflected a shot from Petr Panacek to notch a hat trick. Panacek would finish with a goal and three assists.

White would add one of his own on a feed from Tommy Tsicos.

Nick Modica logged 25 saves in the win, marking his first pro shutout.

Carolina advances to 3-4-1-1 and has gained ground on every team in the league after Columbus defeated Elmira in overtime.

Port Huron falls to 3-8-0-1 and remains the bottom of the league.

Carolina next plays at Columbus on Friday.