Fraser, MI — All season long the Mississippi SeaWolves have been a thorn in the Motor City Rockers’ side taking four games earlier this year in Biloxi.
But on home ice, the Rockers earned two wins over the SeaWolves, 7-3 on Friday night and 5-2 on Saturday night, to close out the regular season.
The FPHL Playoffs will begin at Big Boy Arena on Wednesday night at 7:00pm as the Rockers will host either the Carolina Thunderbirds or the Columbus RiverDragons. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online for $10 at MCRockershockey.com/tickets.Scott Coash’s second hat-trick of the season on Friday night powered Motor City who clinched third place in the Continental Division with the win.
After the ensuing face-off from the second media timeout in the first period, Motor City struck first.
With 8:40 left in the first period, Cody Oakes moved the puck behind the endline away from a battle. Brad Reitter won a quick confrontation and found an opportunity to center the puck to Vanderwiel in the slot. Vanderwiel fired it glove side for his fifth of the season and a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later the Rockers struck again while killing a power play. Josh Colten chipped the puck past a crashing SeaWolves pair and ahead to Scott Coash to create a 2-on-0 breakaway with Declan Conway. Conway carried the puck into the offensive zone and slid a quick pass to Coash who buried the puck for a 2-0 lead with 3:50 to play. It was his fourth short handed goal of the season, his 36th overall. 47-seconds later, Coash struck again.
The puck was played from the nearside boards from Connor Inger to Ryan Rotondi at the far side circle. Rotondi fired a quick wrist shot that was saved, but Coash put away the rebound for his second of the night and a 3-0 lead with 3:03 to play in the first.
Much like last weekend, however, Mississippi used the second period to get back into the game.
2:20 into the middle frame, Kyle Russell hustled to get control of the puck in the offensive zone on the forecheck. Russell then fed the puck to the slot where Jeff Eppright stepped into a wrist shot that beat Trevor Babin that cut into the lead 3-1.
Thirteen minutes later Russell got Mississippi within one when Babin was interfered with. Yaroslav Yevdokimov landed and rolled over Babin in the crease as the puck squirted out to Russell’s stick. The defensemen from Dallas, TX put the puck into the net for his 7th of the season for a 3-2 game with 4:32 to play. The Rockers were able to stop the bleeding two minutes later when Josh Colten collected the puck on the nearside boards and came behind the net to survey the ice. Colten saw Dante Suffredini crash the slot and feathered a one-timer to his defensive partner who buried the puck inside the far side post for a 4-2 lead.
Russell again made a great play in the offensive zone for Mississippi that allowed the SeaWolves to pull within one, as he kept the puck inside the zone. He slid a back-handed pass to Lucas Helland who fired the puck through a crowd and past Babin for a 4-3 game, and his 5th of the season.
The third period was reminiscent of the first as Motor City didn’t allow a goal, and instead built up a four goal lead.
Coash completed his second hat-trick of the season 4:37 into the final frame for his 38th goal of the season for a 5-3 lead.
The Rockers got two empty net goals, one from Vanderwiel with 1:15 to play and one from Ryan Rotondi with 1.9 to play for a 7-3 win. On Saturday night, the Rockers cruised to a 5-2 win over the Mississippi SeaWolves to close out the regular season with two straight wins.
Motor City was able to leave the first period with a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal scored by Cody Oakes.
Dante Suffredini stopped the puck at the blue line in the defensive zone and then quickly chipped it to Brad Reitter. Reitter then offered a stretch pass rink wide into the neutral zone to Oakes. Oakes walked it into the offensive zone and fired a quick shot through the five-hole for his second of the season and 1-0 lead with 3:25 to play in the first.
Motor City was able to build its lead in the second period when Suffredini offered the puck to Connor Inger in the neutral zone. Inger then floated a saucer pass to Declan Conway who gathered the puck in the slot. He then deked, forehand to back-hand, for a 2-0 lead and his 27th of the season.
The SeaWolves got back into the game on a breakaway midway through the second period.
Yanni Liarakos cleared the puck to center that hopped over a Rocker stick and behind the defense. Racing to collect the puck was Yaroslav Yevdokimov as he collected and started the breakaway that he finished through the five-hole to cut into the lead to 2-1 with 9:23 to play in the second.
Two minutes later, Scott Coash earned his first of the night finishing a give and go from Conway that Coash put away in the near side corner, top shelf for a 3-1 lead.
In the third Yevdokimov added his second of the game to pull Mississippi within one, 3-2, for his 52nd of the year before the Rockers pulled away with two goals of their own.Ryan Rotondi added his second of the weekend when he collected the puck at the point and fired a quick hard shot that was deflected by Jackson Bond who covered the play late. That deflection directed the puck over the shoulder of Joe Sheppard for a 4-2 lead with 13:34 left in the game. It was the second of the weekend for Rotondi, and third of the season.
Coash finished the scoring with his second of the night with 7:52 remaining earning his 40th of the season with a little puck luck. As he entered the zone, he entered the zone and was about to offer a centering pass but the puck bounced off a defender’s skate and into the net for a 5-2 lead. The Rockers will host either Carolina Thunderbirds or the Columbus RiverDragons on Wednesday night at 7:00pm at Big Boy Arena in the first round of the FPHL Playoffs. Tickets are $10 at the door or on MCRockershockey.com/tickets.