River Dragons Score 5 Unanswered Goals to Come From Behind on Binghamton

Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons pulled a massive three-goal comeback in the final period of play on Friday night to defeat the Binghamton Black Bears 7-5.

Austin Daae found the scoresheet first just 2:54 into the game as he slotted a shot from in-close through the legs of Joe Sheppard that just squeaked through and found the net to make it 1-0 early. The Black Bears would tie the game minutes later with FPHL goalscoring leader Nikita Ivashkin finding a gap behind the defense and streaking in on a breakaway that he tucked home blocker side past Jared Rutledge to make it 1-1. That scoreline would hold through the first 20 minutes, the River Dragons would lead in shots at that point 18-8.

In the 2nd period, Binghamton took their first lead of the game at the 2:40 mark with Erik Oganezov potting home a rebound with a large commotion in the slot around Rutledge to give the Bears a 2-1 lead.

Austin Daae would find the net again and answer back for Columbus midway through the 2nd, deflecting a pass past Sheppard after Paul Fregeau fired one from the right point with the right amount of touch for Daae to get his stick on it for the goal.

Binghamton would take a big lead into the locker room with them though thanks to some late period magic from their top unit. First Kyle Powell slid a loose puck home sitting on the back door after another big scrum in front of the Columbus net to restore Binghamton's lead with a little over three minutes left in the period. Then, Ivashkin found another goal to add on to his FPHL lead after Rutledge made a series of great saves but was eventually caught out of position and Ivashkin couldn't miss if he tried to make it 4-2 with 13 seconds left in the 2nd period.

The Black Bears added to their lead 50 seconds into the 3rd period and Ivashkin got his hat trick for the night after he drove the puck from behind the net and out reached Rutledge to make the game 5-2.

After that Columbus would find a run of goals that matches a franchise record comeback victory.

First, a power play goal from Noah Doyle who sent a cannon of a shot past Sheppard put on a tee for him by Brad Nolan 6:25 into the period. The power play magic would continue with Josh Pietrantonio getting free on the far side of the net during a save sequence from Sheppard and he sent home a goal to bring the Dragons back within one.

The power play magic would continue again after Jagger Williamson was hauled down in the slot with less than four minutes to go, the ensuing man advantage saw Jay Croop tap home a rebound coughed up by Sheppard after a Jake Grade shot.

With less than a minute left and the game seemingly destined for overtime a turnover from Binghamton saw Austin Daae come in to the zone with speed and space and he sniped the top left corner to send the crowd into an absolute frenzy that had been building all period.

An empty net goal from the newest River Dragons Adam Vannelli and a game misconduct from Binghamton head coach Rod Davidson ended off the game with a 7-5 victory for Columbus.

Jared Rutledge got the win with 19 saves on 24 shots, and Joe Sheppard took the loss after 50 saves on 57 shots.

The same two teams get together again tomorrow night on Teddy Bear Toss night in Columbus. Bring your new or gently used stuffed animals and throw them on the ice after the River Dragons first goal tomorrow and they will be donated to great causes all around the Chattahoochee Valley. Puck drop is at 7:30 and tickets are available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster.

Three Stars of the Game

Austin Daae
Josh Pietrantonio
Nikita Ivashkin