River Dragons Win First Home Game in Shootout Fashion
Columbus, GA - Jay Croop was the hero in the shootout with two goals in the skills competition and Columbus splits the weekend on points with the Enforcers.
Saturday's game was incredibly entertaining and yet started with a familiar feel as Elmira scored the opening goal at the exact same time as last night. Ahmed Mahfouz scored 5:30 into the period shoving in a rebound past Jared Rutledge who made the initial save and couldn't handle the rebound as it landed on the line and made its way over for the 1-0 lead for the Enforcers.
Columbus would respond with a power play tally as Jay Croop batted a puck out of the air after a Yianni Liarakos shot was stopped by Joe Murdaca. At the end of 20 minutes it was 1-1.
The second period opened with a strong Enforcers push with a goal less than 2 minutes in from Gavin Yates on a 2-on-1 that was sprung by Wyatt Trumbley losing his helmet on a neutral zone hit. It would take a while but over 10 minutes later in the period Zach Pease knocked in a goal after good hard work from Chase Fallis and Jimmy Philbin. The score remained tied at the next intermission.
The third period saw Columbus take its first lead of the weekend when David Powlowski took advantage of a slow change by Elmira after a power play and buried a shot past the blocker hand of Murdaca. But Elmira would answer about two minutes later when Hudson Michaelis fired a rebound home after a Gavin Yates shot was stopped by Rutledge.
The 3-3 tie remained for the rest of regulation and continued all the way through all five minutes of overtime. Not without drama though, as Zach Pease took a chel-style tripping call on a one-on-one break late in the OT period. On the resulting power play Elmira thought they had scored the winner but Brandon Tucker's foot was ruled to be in a distinct kicking motion and the goal was disallowed.
No goals on the power play for Elmira on this chance and all weekend meant it was time for the shootout.
The first four rounds went blank for both teams. It wasn't until the top of the 5th that Dustin Skinner fired one low glove on Rutledge to give Elmira a chance at the lead. Stepping up in a do-or-die situation for the Dragons was Croop and he buried one glove side to keep the game going. After 5 rounds teams are allowed to repeat shooter and Elmira fired back with Skinner who rang the right post past Rutledge.
Croop would go again in the sixth and pulled off a series of dangles and then lifted a backhand bar down for the win.
Jared Rutledge gets his second win of the season stopping 41 shots in the game. Murdaca takes the loss with a 44-save effort.
Columbus now looks ahead to Port Huron for the next 2 weekends with games at McMorran Arena in eastern Michigan.
Three Stars of the Game
Hudson Michaelis (ELM)