The Rockers were back in action for the first time in two weeks as Motor City continued the I-94 rivalry with Port Huron on Friday night. After falling behind in the first period, the Rockers regained its form and skated to a 5-4 win over the Prowlers to reclaim second place in the Continental Division. Motor City (14-6-3) showed its ring rust early as the team was regaining its feet from the holiday break, and the Prowlers took advantage of it in the first period. Prowler forward Dan Chartrand carried the puck into the offensive zone and dropped it off to Larri Vartiainen. Vartiainen walked it to the high slot and fired a shot that Trevor Babin stopped initially, but the puck came loose for a rebound. Joe Deveny put in the rebound for a 1-0 lead 4:41 into the period. Twelve seconds later the Rockers tied the score at 1-1. Forward Tim Perks won the face-off draw outside the defensive zone and pushed the puck to Jonathan Juliano. Juliano raced the puck down to the blue line and offered a quick pass in front of the net to a crashing Tommy Cardinal for his first of the night. After the Prowlers (13-10-3) regained the lead, 2-1, off the stick of Sam Marit moments later, it built the lead up to 3-1 at the halfway mark of the first period when Liam Freeborn put in his ninth of the season.
The Rockers though were able to pull within a goal, 3-2, with seven second left in the first period when Juliano offered a quick one-timer to Cardinal who fired a quick wrister in the slot for his second of the night and his eighth of the season.
Motor City was able to keep the pressure on as Perks earned his first goal of the season in the second period. Juliano stopped the puck along the far-side wall where Perks was able to pick it up atop the circle. He then looked for a quick shot to the near side for his second point of the night. It was his first goal since Feb 11, 2022 as a member of the Carolina Thunderbirds. Juliano, who was playing in his 309th career game, was looking to complete his first four point night in four years, and in the third period he was able to make it happen. After Motor City won a puck battle in the nearside corner, Ian White found the puck at his feet and he fired it towards the net. Juliano was there waiting to change its trajectory and deflected it into the net for the Rockers’ first lead of the night, 4-3 with 9:37 in the third.
The Rockers earned an empty net goal off the stick of Josh Colton with a minute to play, before Port Huron was able to pull back within one with an extra attacker when Austin Fetterly scored on a wrist shot that deflected off the trapper of Babin.
Babin stopped thirty shots on the night, including 23 shots in between the second and third periods after a shaky first.
The win is the Rockers fifth straight win in the I-94 series against Port Huron and is 5-2 in seven games. The two will square off at Big Boy Arena tomorrow afternoon at 2:30pm in the last game of the 2022 calendar year.