River Dragons Extend Win Streak to 6 Via Shootout
Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons went through a gutty, defensive game with the Danville Dashers and came out on the other side of the skills competition with the win to extend their win streak to six in front of a crowd of 3,700+.
The River Dragons got on the board early to start tonight's game when Anton Lennartsson blasted one from the right point that seemed to change direction mid-flight, but it was ruled to go off a Danville player and the big Swede had his fifth of the season 1:29 into the game.
It would take almost the whole period but Danville would even it up sustaining a lot of zone time courtesy of a 5-on-3 power play and with their good puck movement Fred Hein was found open on the backdoor with nothing but twine to shoot at after Jared Rutledge and the rest of the penalty killers got caught chasing. Hein's 26th of the season came with 15 seconds left in the period.
In the second period the game turned into a chess match with a lot of strategic play and while there were chances, the teams seemed to be playing more to not make mistakes then to aggressively attack the net. Alas, a mistake was made on the River Dragons side after a clearing attempt hit off the boards at an odd angle and fell right into the path of Nick Gullo. Gullo wasted no time feed Mitch Atkins in the slot who got two chances at Rutledge and put the second one home for a 2-1 Danville lead with 24 seconds left in the period.
In the third the River Dragons started to turn on the jets after they cooled them off a bit in the 2nd. Aleh Shypitsyn held the puck at the left point and walked to the net looking to blast one. As he wound up his eye caught Cameron Dimmitt on the back door and Shypitsyn executed an incredible slap pass that went right on to Dimmitt's tape and he buried it to tie the game 2-2.
Despite the momentum of tying up the game the Dragons could not solve Harley White a third time in regulation and overtime despite sending 54 shots his way, and so the game headed to a shootout.
The first two rounds came up empty and it took to the bottom of the third round for MJ Graham to pull the speed up slow down maneuver and backhand one home for the 1-0 lead in the skills contest. After Artem Efimov-Barakov was denied in the fourth round, Jay Croop had the chance to win the game on his stick, and win it he did with a very patient move, getting White to go down and pulling right to a tight angle and shooting to a wide open top half of the net. Columbus clinched the win and the six game streak off that Croop shot.
Jared Rutledge gets his ninth win of the year with a 35 save effort. Harley White takes the shootout loss, he stopped 52 of 54 he saw during the 65 minutes of work he put in.
Columbus now gears up for a road trip next weekend to First Arena to finish their season series with the Elmira Enforcers. In Columbus' home opening weekend it was Elmira who split the weekend series with a couple of overtime games between the Dragons and the Enforcers.
Three Stars of the Game
Harley White (DAD)