Enforcers Drop The Showcase Opener, 4-2

by Jon Kliment

For the first time in 323 days, the Elmira Enforcers and Watertown Wolves returned to game action at Watertown Municipal Arena to kick off the Empire State Showcase! Despite being just exhibition action, there's a lot riding on this three-game weekend set for both sides. Each coach has been given the chance to evaluate their roster and make their tough choices in preparation for the beginning of the season. Things sure looked different behind both benches as former Enforcers head coach Brent Clarke coached his first game in blue, while Elmira player/head coach Ahmed Mahfouz handled tonight's game with the suit and tie behind the bench. 

The Enforcers brought a different looking lineup on the road to open the weekend and looked to pick up right where they had left off last season, as they concluded the 2019-20 campaign with a 10 game win streak. The green and white jumped off to a quick start generating plenty of the offensive opportunities early, but it was Watertown who managed to light the lamp first.  Lane King won a power play draw down off to Joe Young's left side, turned it back to Justin MacDonald as he connected with Tyler Bullard for a shot past Young with 8:41 to go in the frame to give the Wolves a 1-0 advantage. Elmira's special teams couldn't click however as they finished the period 0 for 2 on the man advantage and 1 for 2 on the kill.

After the intermission, Watertown came out with a blaze of speed in the middle period as they blew odd-man rushes up and down the ice. Midway through the 2nd period after a pretty uneventful first half, each team changed goalies as Chris Pascal took over for Joe Young and Nick Niedert for Cody Porter on the opposition side. It was the Wolves who added one to their total though, as on a clean break into the offensive end, Jacob MacDonald rang a shot off the post, and the rebound couldn't be handled by Pascal and MacDonald tapped it home to put the home side up 2-0 at the end of the frame. 

The final period of regulation saw a quick start from the Enforcers. Brandon Tucker made a steal in the offensive end, and hit Brendan Hussey with a beauty of a pass as Hussey fired it top shelf glove side on Nick Neidert to cut the deficit in half, 2-1. Watertown rebounded about 11 minutes later to double their lead once again as Lane King strolled through the neutral zone, and dropped it off to Josh Koepplinger, and a top shelf wrister found itself in the back of Pascal's net. Trailing 3-1, Elmira tried with a valiant effort to mount a comeback as Marko Novosel coughed up the puck to Taylor Cutting and he couldn't get his slap shot to go, and Evgeniy Demin picked up the rebound and lit the lamp to make it a 3-2 Wolves lead. Watertown managed to end an empty-net goal from Parker Evans-Campbell with 17.6 seconds to go in the contest to seal the deal, as it was the Wolves 4-2 win in showcase opener. 

Joe Young stopped 23 of 24 shots, and Chris Pascal tossed aside 17 of 19 shots. 

The Empire State Showcase shifts to First Arena for the remaining two games of the weekend, starting tommorow night with Game 2 at 7:05pm. No fans may be allowed, but you can still tune in live on Mixlr or YouTube... don't miss a minute of Elmira Enforcers action!