Elmira's New Additions Come Up Huge, Enforcers Take Second Place
Elmira was back in action tonight for a midweek matchup against an Eastern Division rival, the Watertown Wolves. Just one point separated these two teams in the standings with Watertown holding onto second place with 46 points, and the Enforcers nipping at their heels with 45 points. With a win tonight, the Enforcers had the opportunity to jump them in the standings and take over second place going into the weekend.
The Enforcers got started early tonight against their former backup net-minder Michael Stiliadis with some gorgeous passing. Gino Mini sent a pass to the lower left half of the ice to Kyle Stevens, and Stevens wasted no time sliding the puck across to the Enforcers new signing Zach Pease in the slot who beat Stiliadis over his left shoulder to give them a 1-0 lead just 1:14 into the game. Watertown wasted no time getting that goal back as just over 3 minutes later Deric Boudreau sent the puck into the back of the net to tie our score at 1 goal apiece. Off of the faceoff following the Wolves goal, Kyle Stevens took the puck on a breakaway pass from Zach Pease who made a big impact early for the Enforcers and forced Stiliadis to commit one direction as Stevens went the other and scored his 10th goal of the season, giving Elmira an early 2-1 lead. Early in the week the Enforcers made a blockbuster trade, securing the FPHL’s leading point scorer Tyler Gjurich. Gjurich would make his presence known early on as he tipped a shot into the back of the net in what seemed to be Elmira’s third goal of the game, but following the goal celebration the referees got together and concluded that the puck was kicked into the net, taking that goal off the board and leaving our score at 2-1 in favor of the Enforcers. Elmira took that lead into the first intermission, and they also took a 17-13 lead in the shot column with them.
The Enforcers got that elusive third goal of the game exactly 3 minutes into the second period as Dmytro Babenko tipped the puck past the Wolves net-minder to give them a two goal lead early on. The pesky Wolves just wouldn’t go away though, as they had plenty of chances early on in the second period. Those chances paid off as Dominik Bogdziul capitalized and finished off one of those chances to cut the Enforcers lead to one goal. The teams were trading opportunities early, and Zach Pease of Elmira collected his third point of the night in his first game with the team, and Tyler Gjurich got his first goal for the Enforcers on the pass from Pease to stretch their lead back to two goals and leave our score at 4-2. The score remained the same for the rest of the period as Elmira also held onto their lead in the shot column by a much slimmer margin, 30-29.
Early scoring in each period was the theme of the game tonight in Watertown as the Wolves Dominik Bogdziul took advantage of a wrap-around opportunity and beat the Enforcers net-minder Troy Passingham who was unable to get from post-to-post in time to stop the puck. The other theme of the game was goal answering. It seemed as though every time one team scored a goal, the other responded with one of their own. Tyler Gjurich was doing his best to make Watertown regret getting rid of him as he netted his second goal of the game just 43 second later, giving Elmira back their two goal lead and making our score 5-3. In a late attempt to cut into the Enforcers lead and get those two goals back, Watertown pulled their goalie and live to regret it as the Enforcers high powered offense took advantage when Ahmed Mahfouz scored the empty-netter with 8 seconds left in the third period to put the game to bed, 6-3.
Elmira would fall short in the shot column, 38-36, but come up big with the win and take over second place in the FPHL’s Eastern Division. The Enforcers will now be back home this upcoming weekend, January 24th and 25th when the Port Huron Prowlers come to the First Arena.
-Contributed by Zach Braster