River Dragons Sweep Rumble Bees With 5-3 Saturday Win

Columbus, GA - The River Dragons pulled off a weekend sweep of the Battle Creek Rumble Bees with a 5-3 win on Saturday in the Civic Center in front of a crowd of over 4,000.

It took a long time in the first period, but the River Dragons broke the ice first when a good transition rush by Columbus led to Jacob Gerson being all alone in the right circle looking down on Joel Eisenhower. While looking for the shot Gerson caught Yianni Liarakos hovering outside the crease and shot a bullet of a pass to him to deflect in to the net for his 13th of the season at 18:25. The 1-0 lead would hold through to the intermission.

Coming into the second period Battle Creek had about 48 seconds of power play time to their advantage from the start but after that time elapsed Columbus quickly took to the offensive. An underlapped drop pass by MJ Graham to Ivan Bondarenko saw the Russian fire it off the bottom of the post but the rebound fell right to Graham who tapped it home for a 2-0 River Dragons lead.

Midway through the second period though Battle Creek woke up and ended up taking a lead.

The Rumble Bees got on the board with Jarrett Pfeiffer on a breakaway firing one on Rutledge and while the initial shot was saved the rebound trickled over the line before Vaughn Clouston could clear it away. 1:06 later a defensive breakdown in front of Rutledge left Stavros Soilis all alone in front of the net and he potted home a goal to make it a tie game. Then before the crowd could even get used to the tied scoreline a two-on-one from Ryan Alves and Jakub Volf resulted in a Battle Creek lead 1:27 after the tying goal from Soilis.

Columbus would strike back before the break though. On a wraparound attempt from behind the BC net Graham had a chance at the near post to stuff it home. However a Rumble Bee defenseman was able to head him off and the resulting stick clash popped the puck up into the air. As it fell to earth Jay Croop and another Bees defender were tied it up and it bounced off that skirmish and into the open net for a 3-3 tie. Croop was credited with his 20th goal of the season.

In the third the two teams traded off chances but it was a fluky one that ended up deciding this game. CJ Hayes passed the puck trying to go circle to circle and backdoor to a teammate, but instead it took a touch off of a Bees stick and ended up finding twine past a surprised Eisenhower. That goal would go down as the eventual game winner and a Parker Moskal tap-in empty net goal with 20 seconds left would give the game its final scoreline.

Jared Rutledge collected the win tonight with 21 saves on 24 shots. Joel Eisenhower took the loss with 41 saves on 45 shots.

Columbus now looks ahead to a two-game road trip up to Danbury for their first crack against the Eastern division leading Hat Tricks. Puck drop both Friday and Saturday nights is at 7:00.

Three Stars of the Game

Yianni Liarakos
MJ Graham
CJ Hayes