Enforcers Fall In Shootout, 4-3

by Jon Kliment

The Elmira Enforcers (14-12-2-2) were back in town tonight at the First Arena to take on the Port Huron Prowlers (15-10-0-3) in a two-game weekend series. The player to watch for the Enforcers tonight was the captain, Ahmed Mahfouz, who has been riding a hot-streak ever since coming back from injury. Mahfouz continues to impress after scoring his 800thcareer professional point last week, and is second in point totals in the FPHL this season behind the Enforcers leading goal scorer, Tyler Gjurich.

It was the Prowlers who struck first on Captain K-9’s birthday as Dalton Young threw a shot off of the pads of Enforcers net-minder Troy Passingham and it bounced perfectly for Zachary Zulkanycz to collect the rebound and fire it into the back of the net to put Elmira down early, 1-0. The Prowlers shut down the Enforcers first power-play opportunity of the night, and just 3 minutes later Justin Portillo of the Prowlers would take advantage of a lack of defensive pressure entering the zone and snipe a wrist shot bar-down for their second goal of the night, putting the Enforcers in a 2-0 hole. The Prowlers would take their 2-0 lead into the locker room for the first intermission tied with the Enforcers in the shot column, 13-13.

It took a little over 7 minutes for the first goal of the second period to make its way onto the board, and it was Brendan Tucker of the Enforcers scoring his 20th goal of the season on a gorgeous play. Tucker tripped, maintained possession of the puck, and got back to his feet which allowed him to fire a wrist shot into the lower stick-side corner of the net to cut the Prowlers lead to 2-1. Elmira had their opportunities in the period as they outshot the Prowlers 18-8, and went on the power-play three separate times, but despite the chances on the man advantage, they couldn’t tie the score, and we went into the second intermission with Port Huron still leading, 2-1.

The third period got started quickly as Andrew Harrison of the Enforcers went streaking down the ice with the puck, beat his man to the inside and pulled a beautiful move to deke the goalie out of his skates and score, tying our game at 2 goals apiece. Elmira had yet another power-play opportunity, but it wouldn’t pay off as Dalton Jay of Port Huron slipped behind the defense and scored the short-handed goal to give them the 3-2 lead with just over half the period left to play. The Enforcers came up clutch with 4:17 left to play as the puck bounced perfectly out to Cameron Yarwood who was waiting to take the one-timer and he fired one stick-side past the Prowlers net-minder Cory Simons to tie the game at 3. The game remained tied 3-3 until the final horn of regulation, and the Enforcers were going to overtime on the man advantage after a Port Huron penalty with 30 seconds left in regulation time.

The overtime period came with plenty of opportunities for both teams, but the scoring wasn’t there. Elmira outshot the Prowlers 52-28 through regulation and the overtime period, but the final horn sounded with our score still locked at 3-3, sending the game into a shootout. Both teams would score in the first round of the shootout, but the goalies regained their composure and both came up with stone cold saves in round two. With the Prowlers leading 4-3 in the shootout, it was up to Tyler Gjurich to tie the score and send us to another sudden death round, but he was stopped by Simons, giving Port Huron the shootout win in the first game of this weekend series. The Enforcers will be back at the First Arena tomorrow night to take on the Prowlers once again with puck drop coming at 7:05pm.

-contributed by Zach Braster