Enforcers Take 3 Points During Feisty Affair At The Civic Center
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