River Dragons Take Game 1 Of Ignite Cup Finals 4-2

Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons skated to a road win and a 1-0 lead in the Ignite Cup Finals defeating Elmira by a score of 4-2.

Elmira opened the scoring first with Carter Shinkaruk tipping a puck through the 5-hole of Jared Rutledge on a rush that saw Jonny Ruiz take the puck from the corner and fire it in front. His teammate (both as an Enforcer and as a Hat Trick loanee) gave the Enforcers a 1-0 lead 2:26 into the first.

Columbus would fire back and take the lead quickly after though. First it was Connor Fries the beneficiary of a pass from Chase Fallis taking it from behind the goal line and sending it in front for Fries to tap home and tie the game 1:15 after the opening goal. Then it was the Captain's turn as he got a bounce to fall his way off a Jake Howie shot and from the right circle he buried one into a yawning net. 5:04 into the first and Columbus had the lead 2-1.

Elmira would strike back though. Brandon Tucker sent a nice pass through past Vojtech Zemlicka and sprang Tyler Gjurich in all alone on Rutledge. The FPHL's second all-time leading goal scorer went backhand and while Rutledge got a piece of it, it fell into the back of the net to tie the game at 2.

The period would not end there though as Pietrantonio got another one past Passingham with a seeing eye wrister that went over the shoulder and in near the far post. Columbus had the lead through 20 minutes at 3-2.

The second period saw both coaches tighten up their systems and it showed as goaltenders on both sides were making good saves and defensemen were clearing loose pucks to keep the game at 3-2. Then with less than a minute to go, Pietrantonio faked a shot from the right circle and found an angle to pass to the slot where River Dragons leading pointgetter this season Mac Jansen was able to send one in to make it 4-2.

In the third period, Elmira pushed the pace all period and outshot Columbus 16-10 in the frame but Rutledge stood tall the rest of the night and kept it clean for the final 49:37 of the game to help give Columbus the lead.

Jared Rutledge gets his ninth total win of the year with a 34 save effort on the night. Troy Passingham takes the loss with a 36 save night on 40 River Dragons shots.

The rematch is on tomorrow night with Elmira hosting their final home game of the season looking to rebound. The River Dragons are trying to take a 2-0 lead back home to Columbus to put the cup in the house on Friday. Puck drop for Saturday's game 2 is at 7:05, which means a 6:35 pregame show on the CRD Network.

Three Stars of the Game

Josh Pietrantonio
Jared Rutledge
Brody Duncan