By David Dell
DANBURY Connecticut- The Port Huron Prowlers took a loss on their first game to the East coast and last night against the Danbury Hat Tricks, who hold a commanding first-place lead in the Empire Division of the Federal Prospects Hockey League. They fared no better Saturday night.
Wyatt Hoflin started in goal for the Prowlers while Frankie McClendon guarded the cage on the other end of the ice for the Hat Tricks. This was the first time Port Huron faced McClendon this season. The opening stanza had Danbury firing on all cylinders as they ran the show up until 3:53 when Port Huron would finally get a chance to test McClendon with their three shots coming from their blue-liners Alex Johnson and Bryan Parsons. After the whistle at 5:58 Zachary Pamaylaon took a terrible penalty for Spearing when he stabbed Joe Deveny in the ribs to the right of the Danbury goal. Pamalayon received a Game Misconduct and an Ejection. Daniel Amesbury severed the 5-minute major. With plenty of time remaining short-handed, Hat Trick’s Captain Johnny Ruiz grabbed an errant pass from Jason Diamond en route to Evan Foley and raced up the right-wing side. With a man coming up on the left wing, he fired a wrister over Hoflin’s stick-side shoulder into the corner of the net.
Ruiz short-handed the goal coming 7:00. Port Huron and Danbury would trade up ice rushes and shots until 15:34 when Lucas Debenedet doubled the score for the home team. Prowler Captain Dustin Henning was retrieving a loose puck deep in his zone when his clearing pass was intercepted and Debenedet found an opening low on the Hoflin’s stick side. Johnny Ruiz added his second of the night on a rush up the middle. A quick pass to Daniel McKitrick on the right wing who returned it right back, put the puck in the upper corner stick side just as he had 10 minutes earlier. The Hat Tricks led 3-0 at 17:23 of the period. But wait. It wasn’t over yet. Dmitry Kusnetov grabbed a pass at the top of the left-wing face-off circle from Jarod Yau and lasered a shot, beating Hoflin for the fourth time in the period. The goal coming in on the very short side of the cage sounded the horns at 18:12. The period finally came to an end with the Hat Tricks up 13-7 in shots on goal and 4-0 on the scoreboard.
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After the Intermission, there were only two shots on goal between the Prowlers and the Hat Tricks before Port Huron’s Matt Stoia drew a two-minute minor for Slashing, and Port Huron’s Alex Johnson and Danbury’s Daniel Amesbury both picked up minors for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. All penalties came at 4:46. At 5:29 Prowler Bryan Parsons was whistled for High Sticking. Less than a minute later Egor Borshchev put the Hat Tricks up 5-0 at 6:20 on the power play, and then again at 7:09 Johnny Ruiz finished his hat trick for the Hat Tricks. The last two goals both with the man advantage. Xavier Abdella’s Interference minor afforded Port Huron a pair of power play shots but with 7:09 remaining in the middle frame, Danick Rodrique replaced Hoflin in the Prowler goal. The inevitable Amesbury fight took place at 13:25 with Dustin Henning doing the favors. In what looked to be a pretty even fight actually leaned in favor of Port Huron when the Captain landed a couple of solid punches to Amesbury and down he went. Henning and Amesbury both got the obligatory 5-minute majors for Fighting. 15:21 on the clock saw Port Huron’s player-coach Matt Graham lay a solid retaliatory slash on Egor Borshchev and they both rolled on the ice. Borshchev had kicked Rodrique’s goalie stick out past the face-off circle and when Graham and Borshchev dropped their gloves, they both went to the ice. Roughing and Unsportsmanlike Conduct of minors was assessed by both players. Johnny Ruiz capitalized on another Prowler missed pass from Adam Heinzl, who then skated in and went top shelf to give the Hat Tricks their seventh unanswered tally of the night. Ruiz’s fourth goal came with just under two minutes remaining in the period. At 19:10 the referees took exception to Alex Johnson’s solid check along the player benches of a Danbury plaery as did Michael Falanga. Falanga was charged with Unsportsmanlike Conduct for two minutes and he also received a Game Misconduct after going after Johnson and trying to throw him around by the collar. As Johnson was being skated back to the Prowler bench Falanga was being held back by the linesman. In his show of aggression, his gloves and helmet were shed as he continued to chirp Johnson. Johnson was penalized for Boarding and assessed with a Match Penalty sending him to the showers after less than 40 minutes. Port Huron would end the period with a flurry of shots on goal all coming as the final seconds were ticking down. Port Huron again managed only 7 shots on goal to Danbury’s 9 but of those 9 shots, three found the twine.
The Hat Tricks would continue their dominance early in the third period controlling the shots for the first 3:24, even while John McDonald drew an Unsportsmanlike Conduct minor, at 2:03. Port Huron’s Matt Stoia had been called for Interference at the one-minute mark but Danbury couldn’t convert on that power play. Adam Heinzl got tangled up with Daniel Amesbury at 7:20 when he picked up a Cross-Checking minor to Amesbury’s Roughing call. Prowlers’ goalie Rodrique faced a pair of shots spaced out over 1:15 before McClendon got a third-period workout. The Hat Tricks faced nine of the next 10 shots with Jarod Yau and Prowler Tory McLean both serving 10-minute Misconduct for Inciting an Opponent at 10:21. Both teams skated end to end and dumped the puck splitting the shots on goal tally before Kyle Gonzales got called for Goalie Interference. Port Huron went on the power play at 16:15 and Joe Deveny (21st of the season) fired a one-timer on a pass across the ice from Matt Stoia from just inside the left face-off circle to ruin McClendon’s shutout bid. Deveny also got the lone goal in Friday’s contest on the power play as well. This one used 22 seconds. The Hat Tricks would manage two more shots on goal in the period before the Prowlers exploited the crack in Frankie McClendon’s ramparts. Jason Diamond, one of the two newest Port Huron forwards, signed just Friday, picked up his first-ever professional goal in only his second game at 19:09. Matt Graham shoveled the puck out to the right-wing side of the Hat Trick goal where Diamond was able to push it past to give Port Huron the second goal. Bryan Parsons added a third consolation goal with half a second remaining on the clock when the puck was dug out of the corner by 6 of the players on the ice when he gave it a quick wrister to beat the horn going above McClendon’s glove.
Port Huron dropped the series to Danbury and dropped to fourth in the Continental Division with 64 points behind Columbus, Carolina, and Fraser. Their record of 21-18-3 with 42 games played gives everyone else in the division two games in hand. Port Huron travels to Delaware next weekend to play a pair against the ailing Thunder. Delaware has had a little hot streak of late but still has a 4-33-3 record.