The Elmira Enforcers met up with the Danville Dashers on back to back nights to engage in what was made out to be another entertaining fight. A crowd of 3198 filed into the First Arena once again Saturday night after watching a game for the books Friday night. Elmira secured a franchise record of four wins in a row last night, with a few altercations to the lineup. Head Coach, Brent Clarke, was forced to lace up the skates and step onto the ice in the midst of an injury crisis for the Enforcers. Clarke stood his ground on the blue-line and even recorded an assist in the 5-1 victory over the Dashers. Team Owner, Robbie Nichols, backed his boys on the bench as the Interim Head Coach and recorded his 328thwin as a Head Coach. After a game like last night, the city of Elmira could not help but to fill the seats to see what would happen on Saturday evening.
The 1stperiod got off to a slow start as each team was feeling each other out and adapting to each other’s game plan. Elmira was able to muster a few quality opportunities, but Danville’s netminder, Matt Kaludis, was there to answer the Enforcers’ pressure and shut it down. Ahmed Mahfouz flashed his skills after dangling the Danville defense, but nothing amounted from it other than some noise from the home crowd. Both goaltenders were off to solid starts as Elmira’s Troy Passingham stoned ten Danville shots and Danville’s Matt Kaludis rejected 12 of Elmira’s shots on net.
The start of the 2ndperiod is when the Enforcers decided it was go-time. After surrendering a breakaway to Danville’s forward, Brandon Contratto, Troy Passingham had his guys’ back and sent Contratto packing in some style. Contratto broke in on Passingham and tried to get a little too flashy as he took the puck between his legs and tried to flip it over the shoulder of Elmira’s goaltender, but it did go as he planned. Passingham made a glove save and a beauty, stared Contratto down, and then tossed the puck back at him after the whistle. This provoked some roars from the Elmira crowd and some taps on the pads from his teammates. Shortly after the spectacular save, Elmira sent a message of their own back to Danville and were successful in the process. Kyle Stevens executed a textbook stick-lift and takeaway during the Danville breakout that led to Elmira’s first goal of the night. Stevens curled and found Stepan Timofeyev in the slot for a pop of the water bottle to put Elmira up 1-0. After a big finish from the gritty Russian native, Elmira was not finished. With 5 minutes remaining in the period, Ahmed Mahfouz found himself on a breakaway where he would be tripped up and credited with a penalty shot. After earning the penalty shot by continuing to dangle through the Danville defense, Kaludis was most likely expecting some more Mahfouz magic. However, he decided to keep it simple, and he made the right decision. Mahfouz walked in from center ice, wound up from the top of the circle, and blew it by Kaludis’ glove with a slapshot. The penalty shot snipe, sent Elmira into the locker room with a 2-0 lead after two periods of play.
The 3rdperiod of play tightened up and put the fans on the edge of their seats. Eight minutes into the period, Danville was finally able to crack the code on the stellar Elmira netminder. James Angelicola recorded his first FHL goal after finding the back of the net on a one-timer in the slot. Elmira mistakenly had two guys rush to the puck carrier in the corner leaving the rookie wide open in front of the net. This shrunk the margin of the score down to 2-1, but Passingham and the Elmira defense were determined to eliminate anymore defensive zone mistakes. With just two minutes remaining in regulation, Glen Patterson put the icing on the cake. Danville pulled their goalie in attempt to knot the score, but Patterson was able to find some space and fire the puck 200 feet for the empty net goal. This created a 3-1 score and a victory as well for the Elmira Enforcers.
Elmira is finally starting to put the pieces to the puzzle together with just their first year in the FHL. This marks Elmira’s 5thwin in a row, and the teams around the league cannot help but notice. Counting on a loss from the Watertown Wolves tonight, this would tie Elmira for 2ndplace in the FHL standings. The Enforcers are currently playing some “can’t miss” hockey, so stay tuned in on all of the action. Elmira will visit the Watertown Wolves on Monday for some New Year’s Eve festivities.
~contributed by Brooks Vertoske