Photo courtesy of Columbus River Dragons Facebook page
Columbus, GA – On a night where a severe storm rolled through the Columbus area, fans that braved it were treated to one of the best offensive displays of the season. The River Dragons won 11-9.
Returning to the lineup after a stint with the Birmingham Bulls, Aleh Shypitsyn scored the game’s first goal on the power play with a quick wrister past new goaltender Kelly Curl who filled in for three different injured Port Huron players. Minutes later Nick Wright tapped in a rebound off of Curl for his fifth career FPHL goal and first of the season. Early in the contest and the River Dragons picked up where they left off on Friday.
But then the Prowlers woke up. Three goals 2:10 apart, first from Dalton Jay on the power play, then Jarrett Pfeiffer and Alex Gregorich all tallied back-to-back to give Port Huron a lead.
Later on in the period though MJ Graham would tie up the game on a 2-on-1 rush faking the pass to Parker Moskal and firing one short side past Curl for a 3-3 score at the end of the first.
Early in the second period the scoring picked right back up. After Jared Rutledge made a good play to break up a centering feed, the puck found Austin Fetterly who slapped it past Rutledge for a 4-3 Port Huron lead 1:05 into the second.
Columbus then would answer with four consecutive goals. First it was CJ Hayes with his 6th straight game scoring to tie it up 4-4 after Moskal fed him in the middle. Then Moskal got on the board not once but twice, and in between his goals Yianni Liarakos buried a pretty 2-on-1 set up by Tim Santopoalo and Wright.
Nearing the end of the second it was 7-4 Columbus, but Port Huron had a big opportunity with a 5-on-3 power play and they capitalized just as the period was ending. Four seconds left in the frame and Matt Graham with a great backdoor tip to score and bring the game back within two after 40 minutes.
After six goals in the first and second periods, the third would somehow outdo that with eight more.
Port Huron came back within one after Justin Portillo scored one through Rutledge to make it 7-6.
Columbus restored their two goal lead 48 seconds later with Ivan Bondarenko took a pass from Santopoalo and fired one blocker-side on Curl for an 8-6 game.
We weren’t even close to being done after that scoreline (which at that point had tied the River Dragons highest scoring game played in). David Nippard would make it 8-7 with a shot similar to Portillo’s that went through Rutledge, though this time it was from the opposite circle.
Columbus, feeling the pressure, answered back with two goals of their own, MJ Graham and Vaughn Clouston scored 1:40 apart from each other near the midway point of the period and the Dragons hit double digits for the first time in franchise history.
Not to be defeated the Prowlers fought back with another Nippard goal and then Pfeiffer picked up his second of the night with a great passing setup from Matt Graham. We had a one-goal game with five minutes to go in the third, the only unusal thing about it was the 10-9 score.
Columbus would eventually ice the game as Cameron Dimmitt got a bounce and held in a puck offensively while shorthanded. He bore down the left wing side and fired past Curl to give the game its final score of 11-9.
Jared Rutledge made 45 saves on 54 shots for the win. Kelly Curl made 40 saves on 51 shots in the loss.
Columbus concluded their homestand with some offensive fireworks and now take the show on the road to upstate New York to take on the Watertown Wolves Friday and Saturday night. Those games can be heard on WRCG 92.1FM/1420AM just like all other River Dragons games.
Three Stars of the Game