Dragons Clinch Ignite Cup Playoff Spot With 3-1 Win Friday Night

Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons are Ignite Cup Playoffs bound after a 3-1 win over the Port Huron Prowlers on Friday night.

Port Huron opened the scoring late in the first period when River Dragon loanee Yianni Liarakos sent a backdoor pass perfectly on the stick of Thomas Munichiello for the game's opening goal at the 14:23 mark of the first period.

That goal stood up through the opening 20 minutes, but then Columbus tied it back in the second period with a snipe from CJ Stubbs after he was left alone in the slot by the Port Huron defense. With just over 15 minutes to go in the 2nd, the game was 1-1 and it stayed that way heading into the locker room again.

In the third period, shots were flying in on both netminders in excess with both Jared Rutledge and Kurt Gutting putting on a clinic. It took 9:38 into the third period for the deadlock to be broken by Nate O'Brien who's one-timer was stopped partially by Gutting but leaked into the net for what would be the eventual game-winning goal.

Josh Pietrantonio batted one out of the air from under the crossbar with about four minutes left to go in the game to give the game its final scoreline of 3-1.

With their three points tonight and Carolina winning in overtime over Elmira, the River Dragons are now in control of the race to the #1 seed by percentage points over Elmira who the River Dragons will play in the finals after this weekend.

Jared Rutledge gets his FPHL-leading 8th win of the season stopping 36 of 37 shots in this game. Kurt Gutting took the loss after a 38 save effort on 41 shots.

The same two teams go at it again on Saturday night with a 6:35 puck drop at the Civic Center. Tickets available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster.

Three Stars of the Game

Jared Rutledge
Nate O'Brien
Austin Daae