River Dragons Win The Weekend and Season Series In Action-Packed Sunday Game

Columbus, GA - The win, the weekend and the season series went to Columbus River Dragons on Sunday afternoon after a 5-3 win over the Danbury Hat Tricks at the Civic Center.

For the first time in the five games these two teams played against each other the River Dragons scored first. With Danbury on a power play bit facing a defensive zone draw, the Hat Tricks won the faceoff but MJ Graham put in a tough shift in the corner and came out with the puck, played it to the middle and found Ivan Bondarenko in all alone on Thomas McGuckin. A couple of nice moves in front and he put it home for his 21st goal of the season.

The 1-0 score looked to be good heading into the break but Danbury's momentum on a power play spilled over into even strength when Vladyslav Gavrik put a nice cross crease pass right on to the tape of Matyas Kasek who had a wide open net to tap in to for a 1-1 score with about 30 seconds left in the period.

In the second though Columbus answered quickly. A long bomb pass from Graham was gotten to first by Bondarenko to negate icing, then he put it out in front and forced a rebound off McGuckin for Jay Croop to tap in the goal and make it 2-1 with just over a minute gone in the second. Columbus would then double their lead when celebrity player and former Cottonmouth Orrin Hergott scored on a quick shot from the right circle to make it 3-1.

Danbury would not quit though. With a power play set up midway through the second Casper Dyrssen had a wide open net after a crisp circle-to-circle pass from Gavrik, incredibly his shot was stopped by Rutledge who was sprawling back and got a piece with the glove. The rebound though would fall into the crease and be tapped home for the Hat Tricks to bring it back within one. Then for the second straight period the Hat Tricks found the back of the net with less than a minute to go when Jonny Ruiz tapped one home that was stopped by Rutledge but fell out of his reach on the rebound.

With a tie score and the season series on the line both teams fought hard in the third period to not give the other guys anything that could be used to get the next goal. But as the minutes ticked down it was Columbus who won a loose puck battle in the neutral zone and Yianni Liarakos laid a puck back into the wheelhouse of Egor Kostiukov who blasted one 5-hole on McGuckin for a 4-3 lead with under three minutes to play.

Danbury called timeout with about a minute and a half left and had the net pulled. On one of their many offensive zone draws Orrin Hergott cut off a winger and was able to play the puck out to center where a speedy CJ Hayes got onto the end of it and fired home the icing on the cake for the 5-3 win.

Jared Rutledge got his second win of the weekend with a 44 save effort, Thomas McGuckin takes his first loss against the River Dragons stopping 23 of 27 shots he saw.

The River Dragons now gear up for a home-and-home-and-home series with the Carolina Thunderbirds with the Friday and Sunday games coming at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. Saturday's game is Throwback night at the Civic Center with a 6:05 puck drop in Columbus.

Three Stars of the Game

Egor Kostiukov
Orrin Hergott
Jared Rutledge