By David Dell
PORT HURON- Wearing baseball-inspired sweaters, Cory Simons goalie for the Prowlers came away with the win Saturday night. The sweaters, originally slated to be worn in conjunction with Baseball’s Opening Day 2020 were shelved when the national pandemic came calling and the State governments decided to curtail all extra-curricular activities and canceled the season before being worn.
In the second of three games, the margin of victory was again 2 runs (goals) but it was the hometown team getting the points this time. Alex Johnson (20th on the season) started the scoring for Port Huron at 5:44 of the first inning, going in all alone after intercepting a pass in front of his own goal. Watertown had failed to connect on 3 previous passes and the Prowlers couldn’t take possession but, this time Johnson was able to hold on, skate unmolested to just inside the left-wing face-off circle, and beat Wolves goalie Breandan Colgan five-hole. Brennan Young picked up a Charging minor at 9:12 on what was a very weak call to give the visitors their first power play of the weekend, the Prowlers having played a perfectly clean game Friday night. The Prowlers have the worst penalty kill in the league at only 79% but they were perfect the whole match. Justin MacDonald, the league leader with 114 points managed just one shot which Simons handily turned away. Austin Fetterly was called for Holding at 14:16 giving Watertown their second power play in five minutes which the Prowlers were able to kill off but making Simons work a little harder facing three shots. Two minutes after Fetterly came back to the ice, he drew a Delay of Game minor penalty when his errant attempt to clear the zone, launched the puck over the glass. In the words of the late great Ernie Harwell, “that ball is going home with the young fan from Smith’s Creek.” Tonight, it was Game Announcer Austin Dunn saying “the PUCK is going home with the young fan.” When it was done and over with, the Watertown Wolves managed 12 hits to Port Huron’s 7 but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
The ‘second inning’ began with 11 seconds left in the Fetterly penalty but the Wolves were unable to capitalize on it. At 00:35 in, Justin MacDonald got nabbed for High Sticking giving the Prowlers their first power play of the night which was then accentuated to a 5 on 3 when Justin Coachman tripped up Evan Foley who was chasing down the puck deep in the offensive zone on the left-wing at 1:01. The resulting minute and a half gave the Prowlers the spark they needed to control the game with six solid shots that had Watertown’s Colgan dancing from side to side in the crease. Prowler head coach Matt Graham and Rocco Diconstanzo tangled it up at center ice in a quick dance before falling to the ice resulting in both drawing 5-minute majors for Fighting. During the resultant chirp fest between Alex Johnson and former Prowler Ahmed Mafouz, Riley Robertson of the Wolves caught a minor Elbowing penalty to give the Prowlers their second power-play opportunity. Ross Bartlett (5th on the season) tipped in an Alex Johnson rocket from the slot who took a clean pass from Dalton Jay off the face-off. The goal comes at 9:58. During the ensuing pause in play, Riley Robertson and Justin Coachman reacted to the celebration and created a melee in front of the Port Huron bench, attempting to pull a Prowler over the boards. The Wolves’ backup goalie Luke Cohen came off the bench but wasn’t noticed by the officials who had their hands full, and were able to avoid a Game Misconduct for Leaving the Bench. Robertson and Coachman both received minors for Roughing and Alex Johnson drew two minutes for Unsportsmanlike. All at 9:01. Four minutes of close play and lots of forechecking kept the game slow before Cole McKechney spoiled Simons’ shutout at 12:51. Troy Taylor had his shot stopped but the rebound came out beyond Simon’s reach and McKechney was able to reach out and lift it over his shoulder to get on the board. The period would with a handful of shots traded at each end with the tally flipped, Watertown with 9, Port Huron with the 12.
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The spirited play opened the third stanza with Johnson gaining the zone on the far right-wing, and sending a blast from right inside the blue line. Long after the puck was stopped by Colgan, Johnson was upended by Ryan Devine. Stavros Soilis was able to grab the handle of the rebound and go top shelf, stick side for his 8th goal of the season marked up, at 8:57. The remaining 11:03 of regulation saw Port Huron and Simons especially, standing up to the Wolves, stopping all shots in shutting down yet another penalty, this time by Ross Bartlett at 9:10 on a Tripping minor. Shots were even between the teams for the rest of the period even with Watertown’s Colgan being pulled for the extra attacker at 17:51 and again at 18:20 having come back on the ice for face-off protection. With the win tonight, the Prowlers improve to 18-28-3, with five more games before the playoffs start. 1,208 fans in attendance helped push the average to an even 1,500 per game.