Enforcers End Scoring Drought, Continue to Seek Points
The Elmira Enforcers kicked off an instate rivalry on Wednesday night with the defending FHL champion Watertown Wolves. The Enforcers were coming off a rough weekend in which they lost a pair of games to the first place Carolina Thunderbirds and the Wolves came in off two losses of their very own to the Danville Dashers. The first period started out with promise for the Enforcers as they controlled much of the play for the first two minutes, but a Dale Deon penalty the Wolves on the offensive and allowed Watertown the advaage it needed to score just one minute after the power play ended with a Tyler Gjurich goal. This would be a very different game from the weekend as it took Elmira just 31 seconds to respond as Brendan Hussey tallied his first goal of the season to tie it at one a piece. At the halfway point of the first period, however Brandon Vuic took a high sticking penalty which allowed Gjurich to put another one past Passingham making it 2-1 which would carry on until the end of the first.
If you blinked anytime during the 2ndperiod, you most likely missed a goal. The 2ndperiod was filled with six goals; four coming from each team’s special teams unit. Gjurich kicked off the scoring quickly in the 2ndperiod by converting on a fast-break 3-on-1, earning a hat trick. Elmira’s captain, Ahmed Mahfouz, has been waiting to get his legs underneath him and earn his first goal on the 2018-2019 campaign. Mahfouz was finally able to get the weight off of his shoulders after Josh Newberg lost his brain bucket and took a rare Illegal Equipment penalty. Mahfouz serves as the Enforcer’s sparkplug as he was able to ignite a fire to get Elmira rolling. Just five minutes later Mahfouz was back at it again. Mahfouz finessed a drop pass to his teammate Mike Chemello, and Chemello threw a deke on his defender and buried the puck into the back of the net to tie the game up at 3-3. After coming out on fire, Elmira showed their fatigue as they gave up an inexcusable 4-on-1 goal for George Holt and the Wolves. Elmira exerted no backcheck on the defensive end which gave Elmira’s netminder, Passingham, absolutely no chance. The fans in Watertown experienced some déjà vu when Ahmed Mahfouz fed Mike Chemello once again for another Power Play goal. However, Watertown was able to find some late magic on the Power Play when Brandon Wahlin found Anton Lennartsson in the slot to send the Wolves into the locker room with a 5-4 lead.
The 3rdperiod was no different from the previous period as the fans witnessed six more tallies on the scoreboard. Six minutes into the period Holt found the back of the net for the second time off of a shot into the pads of Passingham by Gavin Yates. Just 30 seconds later, Lennartsson scored his second goal of the game and suddenly the wind was knocked out of the Enforcers. Fortunately, Brandon Vuic was able to find some life and decrease the deficit to two goals as he rifled home a Power Play goal from the top of the circle. However, the defending champs would not take their foot off of the gas. Yates muscled home a rebound with just six minutes remaining in the game. Elmira refused to give up and found another responsive goal. In attempt to gain a man-advantage and make a strenuous comeback, Elmira sent Passingham to the bench with about four minutes remaining in the game. For a short amount of time, the strategy was working when Vuic scored his second goal of the game to bring it back to within two goals 8-6. It was only a matter of time before Watertown eased a puck into the empty net, and that is exactly Justin Portillo did to put the cherry on top with just 15 seconds left in the third period.
The defending champions were able to skate off the ice as 9-6 winners in this offensive shootout. Each of these teams will be able to recuperate and enjoy their Thanksgiving as they both have an off day before suiting back up on Friday and Saturday. The Danville Dashers will be traveling into Watertown for a post-Thanksgiving weekend series. The Elmira Enforcers will travel home and look to bounce back against the Port Huron Prowlers in a two-game series starting Friday.
~Contributed by Brooks Vertoske