By Jeremy Skiba
The Port Huron Prowlers and the Columbus River Dragons took one game apiece in this past weekend’s series.
On Friday night, the Prowlers would go on to lose to the River Dragons by the score of 6-3. The Prowlers would get the hot start, but after the first period, it was all River Dragons as they cruised to their fourth win of the season.
It would take Port Huron only a minute and four seconds to get on the board when Matt Graham was able to sneak past the River Dragons defense to pick up a pass from Matt Robertson for a breakaway goal.
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The Prowlers would add another goal in the first after Dalton Young picked up a drop pass from Jarett Pffeifer in the low slot. He would drive to the net slipping it past Jared Rutledge for his second goal of the season.
In the second period, the Prowlers came out flat-footed. The River Dragons would erase the Prowlers 2-0 lead starting with a power-play goal from Jay Croop with 21 seconds remaining on a Joe Pace’s five-minute major. Pace would also be served with a match penalty for kicking a player and was thrown out of the game.
Almost four minutes after Croop’s goal, Columbus’s MJ Graham would tie the game at two after picking up a pass from Ivan Bodnarenko in the slot and roofing it past the glove of Chris Paulin.
With a short-handed goal, Zach Pease would give Columbus their first lead of the game. Pease would pick up a rebound off a shot from Jiri Pestuka and tap it into the net to give Columbus the 3-2 lead.
The River Dragons would add two more goals to start the third period. The first goal came from Croop after he picked up his own rebound and lifted it past Paulin who tried to reach out and secure the puck.
Prowlers Captain Matt Robertson would get Port Huron back within two after finishing a cross-ice pass from Dalton Jay on the power play to lift it past Rutledge’s glove.
But Columbus’s Captain Chase Fallis would put the nail in the coffin by scoring an empty netter with under a minute left in the period to give the River Dragons the 6-3 win.
After losing Joe Pace in the first period, the Prowlers appeared lost, surrendering five unanswered goals including 2 shorthanded goals. Pace recently finished serving a five-game suspension for spearing which occurred in last year’s playoffs. He would sit out Saturday night’s game as well.
With Cory Simons making his season debut in net on Saturday night, the Prowlers would bounce back and slay the River Dragons 6-2 to earn three points.
Continuing his hot streak against the Prowlers, Jay Croop would get the scoring started about four minutes into the game. Croop would one-time home a pass from MJ Graham past the five-hole of Cory Simons.
The Prowlers would answer back six minutes later after Dalton Jay picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone and drove straight to the net roofing the puck past the glove hand of Jared Rutledge.
The Prowlers opened up the scoring in second period on the power play after Matt Robertson blasted a slapshot from the point to put his team up 2-1.
Columbus came right back with a goal of their own when Ivan Bodnarenko tapped home a rebound past Simons.
The Prowlers would score three unanswered goals with Matt Graham having consecutive tallies. His first goal gave the Prowlers a 3-2 lead after picking up a nice feed from Matt Robertson to slip it past Rutledge on a two-on-one opportunity with Dalton Jay. Graham would add his second after picking up a perfect pass from Paul Arnott low in the slot to score five-hole on Rutledge.
After picking up a juicy rebound from a Dalton Young shot, Matt Robertson would score with three seconds left in the period as he wristed the puck past Rutledge’s right pad. This gave the Prowlers a 5-2 lead heading into the third.
Robertson would complete the hat-trick with an empty-net goal in the third period for his second hat-trick of the season.
Prowlers goaltender Cory Simons played exceptionally well and earned the win by stopping 31 shots along the way. Jared Rutledge would stop 32 in the loss for Columbus.
Prowlers Captain Matt Robertson was the first star of the game. He gave his thoughts on the win after Saturday night’s contest.
“It was good to get the bounce-back win tonight. The guys played a complete 60-minute game tonight and it resulted in the win,” Robertson said. “If we can put that effort forward every night, I like our chances of winning.”
Head Coach Joe Pace believes his team is one to watch for.
“I thought the weekend was great and we were a much better team. It’s not like we are being cocky or arrogant. I think when we are on, most teams in the league will have a tough time of keeping up with us,” Pace said. “Friday night was completely my fault. Before I got ejected, we were leading 2-0 and dominating the play. On Saturday night, I couldn’t be more proud of the guys. Robertson, Graham and Jay had an unbelievable night and proved to everyone that we are a team to be reckoned with this year.”
After the weekend, the Prowlers now sit with a record of 2-4-2-0 and the River Dragons with a record of 3-3-1-1. The Prowlers will be back in action next weekend for a two-game set against the Mentor Ice Breakers. Friday night’s game will be held at 7:35 and Saturday’s at 6:35. Be sure to tune in as fans will be able to catch all the action on Mixlr.