Nick Niedert, Brandon Vuic Lead Enforcers to 7-2 Victory!
Their backs pushed to the wall the Elmira Enforcers were down 2-0 and the Enforcers needed to find a way to claw their way back into the series. Elmira had a lot on their plate with Captain Ahmed Mahfouz and starting goaltender Troy Passingham suspended alongside Coach Brent Clarke.
Elmira wasted no time getting things going as Sean Reynolds sat in the slot and took a feed from Gavin Yates to bury one by Christian Pavlas giving the Enforcers the early lead 1-0. Beau Walker needed just 2:16 to tie it up, but the Enforcers would not be deterred as Kyle Stevens smashed home a Dmytro Babenko rebound just before the five minute mark of period one. After Sean Reynolds left the ice being crosschecked a five minute major penalty was given to Michael Bunn and then Josh Pietrantonio put his team down by two, which allowed Stepan Timofeyev to go top shelf on Pavlas at 9:31. During the five minute major Brandon Vuic scored his fifth of the postseason just 1:22 later. Tom Tracy capped off the scoring in the first with an even strength goal when Vuic fired one at Pavlas who kicked the rebound right to Tracy’s awaiting stick. Shots on goal favored the Enforcers after one 16-7.
The second period saw Elmira develop a much more defensive posture. Throughout the period the Enforcers pushed the Thunderbirds back further and further into their defensive zone. Though the shots on goal evened out at 23 a piece the Enforcers executed the game plan that eluded them in game two. Elmira went to the room with their 5-1 lead intact, but by no means claiming victory knowing it would take the full 20 minutes to get them the win to keep their championship dreams alive.
The Enforcers came into the third period knowing they couldn’t sleep on this dangerous Carolina team. Brendan Hussey made sure they didn’t with a goal just 83 seconds into the period after a pass slipped through the defenseman’s legs and Hussey buried it five hole on Pavlas. Jan Salak was finally able to solve Nick Niedert again ad he snuck one by the Elmira netminder to bring Carolina back to within 4, however just :36 later Brandon Vuic got pulled down and awarded a penalty shot giving him a one on one with Pavlas he buried five hole to give the Enforcers a final tally and a 7-2 victory in game number three.
Niedert had 42 saves on 44 shots and claimed first star of the game honors on a night when Elmira claimed their first Championship round win since May 1st, 2002.
The teams will meet again tomorrow night at 7:05pm as Elmira looks to send the series back to Carolina for a deciding game five! Get your tickets now 607-734-PUCK!