Enforcers Suffer Defeat 4-2 In Ignite Cup Game 1

by Jon Kliment

The Ignite Cup kicked off on Friday night as the Elmira Enforcers took on the Columbus River Dragons in a best of five series. In the season series, 3 of 5 games between these two sides were decided by just one goal with all of those going to extra time. Columbus got the #1 seed and home-ice advantage finishing the regular season with an 11-8-3-1 record and the highest win percentage. Elmira took the #2 seed finishing second best at 11-7-3-4 and with the series best 3-of-5 were given host rights in Games 1 and 2. The two top teams in this abbreviated campaign skated on to First Arena ice to kick off the series with a bang.

The Enforcers got the game started on a high note dumping the puck into Columbus territory with just 2:26 having ticked off the clock. Carter Shinkaruk corralled it off the sidewall to the right of Jared Rutledge, and he fed it to Jonny Ruiz who threw it towards the front where Shinkaruk tipped one up and over the 5'11 170 visiting netminder to give Elmira an early 1-0 jumpstart. Columbus wasn't going to have it. After being denied on an initial attempt from the bottom of the right-wing circle, Chase Fallis grabbed his own rebound and wrapped around Troy Passingham to set up Connor Fries for a no-doubter in the slot that evened the game up 1-1 just 1:15 later. Just 1:25 having passed him by since the first celebration, Jake Howie sent a stretch pass back to the blue line and Josh Pietrantonio picked up his first goal of the final on a laser vaulting Columbus on top 2-1.

Tyler Gjurich who's been great all season long on 1-on-1 chances against a netminder showed up when given the chance. Brandon Tucker forced one through the neutral zone forward and Gjurich grabbed it, raced in, and potted it by Rutledge to even the score 2-2 with just under ten minutes to play in the first frame of the evening. From the back of the right-wing circle, Josh Pietrantonio snapped a high hard one off which found its way past Passingham to give the visitors a 3-2 advantage with 6:33 left in the period that held into the intermission.

Just when it seemed like the second period was going to go into the system as a 0 for both sides, the RIver Dragons altered that plan. With just 53.2 seconds remaining until the break, Pietrantonio caught the Enforcers netminder sleeping on the right post as he crossed a pass to Austin Daae who had no issue sliding it in to make the score 4-2 Columbus after 40 minutes.

The Enforcers pushed hard late in the game after the early stages of the final regulation frame rolled by without any score, but were unable to mount a 3rd period comeback and dropped Game 1 of the Ignite Cup FInal by a 4-2 margin to fall behind 0-1 in the championship series.

Troy Passingham stopped 36 of 40 in the loss.

The Elmira Enforcers are right back in action tomorrow night at 7:05pm in Game #2 of the 2021 Ignite Cup Finals series vs the Columbus River Dragons and it will be your last chance to see hockey at First Arena until October. Grab your tickets now by calling (607) 734-PUCK and come on out to enjoy the race for the cup with us!