Local Sports

Prowlers vs River Dragons, March 30, 2024

Photos courtesy of David Dell – Delta Imaging Photography

By David Dell

PORT HURON- Having lost to the Columbus, Georgia River Dragons on Thursday night, the Prowlers played host to them again Saturday in the final meeting between the two teams in the regular season.  Columbus has secured the number one seed in the Continental Division of the Federal Prospects Hockey League while Port Huron looks to hold onto third place.

The Prowlers took on and took down the Binghamton, New York Black Bears Friday night in the teams’ only meeting this season.  The Black Bears are the first-place team in the Empire Division and Port Huron narrowly missed shutting them out with the help of some fresh blood and fresh legs from a pair of recent NCAA pick-ups, winning 4-1 behind the net minding of Makar Sokolov.  The River Dragons hold the best record overall in the league with 122 points, a full 44 more than the Prowlers.  Port Huron added two more collegiate players ahead of Saturday’s game and started recent Swedish goalie Oscar Wahlgren.

Things looked grim at the outset when River Dragons’ Justin McDonald lit the lamp on just the second shot of the game at 5:05.  Both teams were skating hard and stopping up the passing lanes but none of that matters when goals are being scored.  Port Huron’s Liam Freeborn (24th of the season) racing down the slot, got the perfect centering pass from Tucker Scantlebury on the left wing, went forehand-backhand, and beat Breandan Colgan who looked shocked that he gave up such an easy goal, just 1:10 after Columbus established the lead. It was the Prowlers’ first shot of the game.  Three minutes later Bryan Parsons (6th of the season) put the home team up front. Parsons waiting at his position on the left side of the blue line, got the puck from Austin Fetterly deep in the zone, and then casually skate center, walked down the slot, and put a wrister low past Colgan’s glove side for the tally.  Liam Freeborn working on the puck with Columbus captain Josh Pietrantonio along the right side boards, picked up a Tripping minor and Ryan Hunter was able to take advantage of the man advantage.  With traffic in front of Wahlgren, a one-timer from Nolan Slachetka tied the game at two each.  Not to be outdone, Frank Schumacher (4th of the season) again on the left side blue line, picked up another Fetterly pass and one-timed a rocket that had Colgan ducking in fear, letting the puck sail past him without any effort to make the save.  Sequoia Swan got a breakaway and gained the Port Huron zone but Brett Lockhart, a recent pickup from Plymouth State University, reached a bit too far and picked up a Tripping minor, granting Swan a Penalty Shot.  Swan moved very slowly and deliberately put an easy forehand shot on Wahlgren’s blocker for the failed shot, keeping Port Huron up 3-2 with just over a minute and a half remaining in the first period.  Columbus held the Prowlers to just 7 shots on goal but with a 43% success rate.  Columbus managed 13 shots.

The second period showed the same intensity in play between the two teams and at 5:56 Vincent Dekumbis (5th of the season) picked up his second goal in two games. Evan Foley started the action when he rang the right-side post and shoveled the rebound back to Schumacher at the blue line.  Schumacher’s one-timer was head slightly left and Dekumbis got the tip in to double up the score.  The River Dragons don’t lead the league by just laying down.  At 11:07 Ryan Hunter potted his second of the night, beating Wahlgren under the glove after taking the puck from the far blue line, down the left side of the rink.  Justin McDonald went on the hat trick watch list as well when he took a cross-ice pass from Hunter and got the score from the opposite side, four minutes later.  Evan Foley (16th of the season) put the Prowlers back on top 5-4 just 45 seconds later at 16:15.  In a flurry of action, Dominic Loubert stole a pass and fired from the slot. Dan Chartran missed his shot on the rebound and the puck reached Ross Bartlett behind the goal.  Centering the puck back out to Foley standing on the front door, slammed it shut on Colgan, to put Port Huron back on top 5-4.  Both teams would get powerplay chances when Jeromy Rancourt drew a Hooking minor for Port Huron and then Ryan Hunter got double minors with Alex Johnson.  Hunter drawing Unsportsmanlike Conduct and Roughing infractions, while Johnson got a Delay of Game.  The Prowlers led 19-11 shots on goal for the period.

With a one-goal game to start the third frame, each team was able to get scoring chances on their end-to-end rushes but not until Ryan Hunter collected his hat trick at 15:19 were either able to score, putting them even up at 5-5.  Liam Freeborn (25th of the season) notched his second goal of the night on a rush with Tucker Scantlebury and Connor Foley.  Freeborn cut off a clearing pass coming out of the River Dragons’ zone and fired it cross-ice to Scantlebury on the left wing. Scantlebury’s shot was initially stopped by Colgan but not controlled.  Freeborn waiting at the side of the net found the loose change and cashed it in to put Port Huron back on top with just over a minute and a half to play. Columbus used their time out with 1:25 remaining in regulation down one goal.  Colgan was pulled for the extra attacker but only managed a pair of shots, both teams battling for control.  When it was all said and done, the Prowlers had taken down the top teams in both divisions on back-to-back nights.  Columbus again dominated the play firing off 14 shots on goal to 8 but failing to get the tying score.  1,302 loud and encouraging fans kept McMorran hopping as if this were a playoff game.

The Prowlers head to Baton Rouge next weekend to play a pair of games with the Zydeco and then play on 12 April for their last regular season home game against the Fraser Motor City Rockers, in the ubiquitous home-and-home series.  Port Huron has secured a spot in the Continental Division playoffs but have not locked down 3rd seed with Mississippi holding 4th place with 3 games in hand.

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