Fraser, MI — Motor City wrapped up its seven game home stand with an impressive display against the top team in the FPHL.
Thanks to a 5-0 win on Friday night, and a 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon, the Rockers took two out of three against the Columbus River Dragons at Big Boy arena.
Trevor Babin had waited 88 games for his one special moment and it came on Friday night. Babin stopped every shot he faced, 39 in total, to earn his first career shutout as the Rockers beat Columbus 5-0 at Big Boy Arena.
The Goaltender from Philadelphia stopped 12 shots in the first period, 19 in the second, and eight in the third period.
While Babin was a brick wall in front of the net, Motor City’s offense built a lead, and its defense kept it. 4:02 left in the first period, Motor City struck first on a goal by Dante Suffredini. Connor Inger carried the puck into the offensive zone along the far side wall and pushed it to the point and on to the stick of Josh Colten. Colten fired a hard pass towards the net that Suffredini tipped in for his fifth of the season and a 1-0 lead. The Rockers (24-15-6) added to the lead with two goals in the second period that were scored 45-seconds apart. 4:10 into the period, Tim Perks carried the puck down low into the offensive zone. He held onto it, and completed a wrap-around pass to Nick Magill-Diaz who popped the puck in the net for his third of the season and 2-0 lead. Moments later, Motor City utilized the wrap-around pass again to build the lead when Brad Reitter carried the puck down low and simulated the same play as before. This time Danny Vanderweil was the man in front to put away the puck for a 3-0 lead for his third of the season.
With Babin staying hot, the Rockers added two goals in the third.
Suffredini won a puck battle in the defensive zone and pushed it ahead to Reitter who chipped the puck ahead to Tommy Cardinal. Cardinal slipped behind the defense for a partial breakaway and deked to his back-hand for a goal and a 4-0 lead with 13:21 to play. It was his 18th of the season and extended his point streak to five games. Late in the third with 6:42 remaining, Scott Coash added the cherry on top when he carried a Declan Conway pass into the zone and fired a quick wrist shot for a 5-0 lead. The River Dragons (33-8-4) had their moments as Columbus had six power plays, but failed to convert on them, including four in the third period. Saturday night, however, belonged to Columbus.
After being shutout the night before, Columbus had a strong offensive performance to take game two of a three game series with a 5-2 win at Big Boy Arena.
The River Dragons used its trademark suffocating forecheck and odd-man rushes to take control of the game in the second period building a lead that was started in the first period. Midway through the opening frame with 9:50 left in the first period Alex Storjohann netted his first of the night, and 22nd of the season. The puck was fired on net by Josh Labelle from the far side point that was turned away by Trevor Babin. Josh Petrantonio slid it into the slot where a crashing Storjohann sliced through the Rocker defense and put the puck in for a 1-0 lead. Motor City knotted the score up, 1-1, on the power play with 12:04 left in the second period, cashing in its only power play goal of the night. Tommy Cardinal feathered a pass to Brad Reitter along the far boards. Reitter threaded the needle through a crowd in front of the net and found Nick Magill-Diaz for a one-timer on the far side post for his second of the weekend, and fourth of the season.
From then on, it was all River Dragons who regained the lead on a 5-on-3 with 6:31 left in the middle frame. Storjohann cycled the puck back to the point to Labelle who pushed it to the nearside to Petrantonio. As a man was screening in front, Petrantonio fired a hard blast through the five-hole of Babin for a 2-1 lead and his 14th of the season. The Rockers’ defense succumbed to the constant pressure of Columbus, as Motor City was only rotating five defensemen the whole night. The River Dragons smelt blood and went in for the kill. With under three minutes to play in the 2nd period, Columbus had two breakaway goals, one by Petrantonio and the other by Jacob Kelly that were born off stretch passes that slipped behind the Rockers for a 4-1 lead after two. Motor City got back on the board thanks to a rebound goal by Derek Makimaa on the nearside to pull within two, 4-2, with 8:21 to play in the third. But an empty net goal by Storjohann for his second of the night solidified a 5-2 win.
After losing on Saturday night, Motor City found a way to complete a comeback and take two-out-of-three against Columbus on Sunday afternoon. The Rockers used a goal in the second and third period to beat the River Dragons 2-1 at Big Boy Arena.
The Rockers and River Dragons skated in a very even back-and-forth first period, but Columbus found a way to get on the board in the last minute of play.
Cody Rodgers secured the puck deep in the defensive zone, and pushed it on a D-to-D pass to Edgars Ozolinsh to start the breakout. Ozolinsh passed the puck into the neutral zone and on to the stick of Austin Daae. As Daae carried the puck into the offensive zone, he bobbled the puck. After he quickly collected it inside the far circle he fired a shot that beat Trevor Babin who never noticed it for a 1-0 lead with 48.9 seconds left in the 1st period. It was his 16th of the season.
The Rockers got some late period heroics at the end of the second period thanks to a marvelous play by Derek Makimaa.
The Puck was played behind the centerline by Cody Oakes after he controlled a Ryan Rotondi pass. Makimaa walked the puck through the other side of the neutral zone and poked past a Columbus pinch and then turned on the afterburners. As he sped up to collect the puck in between the hashes, Makimaa picked the top right corner to beat Breandan Colgan glove side for a 1-1 tie with 9.6 ticks on the clock.
Motor City had a flurry in front of Colgan with 13:13 left in the third period that Scott Coash converted for the insurance goal. As Declan Conway fired the puck, Colgan made a quick save and stopped the rebound of Connor Inger. As the puck bounced into the far side circle, Coash picked it up and fired it to the top shelf from a shallow angle for his 30th goal of the year, and his 50th point of the year for a 2-1 lead in the third period.
The River Dragons did not give up their fight though the rest of the period. Babin had to stop a flurry of shots, and his defense picked up loose rebounds to keep Columbus off the scoreboard the rest of the way, including stopping a 90-second 6-on-5 attack to close the game. This is the first time since the middle of January that Columbus has lost two games in a series, in regulation when it was in Winston-Salem to take on Carolina. Motor City has to regroup quickly as the Rockers will travel for a three against those same Thunderbirds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.