ELMIRA, NY – The Greenville Road Warriors were unable to overcome 11 shorthanded situations on Wednesday night and fell to the Elmira Jackals by a 6-3 score at First Arena. Elmira’s win evened the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at one game a piece.
The Road Warriors came out with a strong surge to begin the first period and carried the play in the Elmira zone for most of the first four minutes of the period. They picked up four shots on goal for their efforts, but starter Jared DeMichiel was on point and did not allow Greenville to score the first goal. Elmira took an errant shot from the point and turned it into a 3-on-2 rush into the Greenville end of the ice. Justin Donati set up Eric Lampe on the back door for a tap-in past Nic Riopel and a 1-0 Elmira lead with 5:08 gone by. The Road Warriors did not waver, though, and stormed back with a pair of goals to take the lead, and send DeMichiel to an early shower. Brendan Connolly scored his second goal in as many nights with a power play marker at 12:05 that tied the game. His one-timer was set up by Wes Cunningham and Lee Baldwin. Just moments later, Sam Klassen joined an odd-man rush with Justin Bowers and slapped a shot past DeMichiel at 13:41 to give Greenville its first lead of the night. Marco Cousineau replaced DeMichiel after Klassen’s goal and made two saves the rest of the way. Riopel had eight saves in the frame for the Road Warriors.
In a penalty-filled second period, that actually saw play at three skaters a side for just over 20 seconds, the Jackals were able to wipe away the Road Warriors’ lead thanks to a familiar source. Greenville’s offense was held in check for much of the first half of the period as a result of penalties to Jimmy Kilpatrick and Cunningham, but the penalty killers and Riopel held the fort down and kept the one-goal lead in tact. Then, starting at 9:09 with a goalie interference minor to Elmira’s Vinny Geonnetti, six penalties were dished out (three a side), and led to some wide open play. With play even at four skaters a side, Justin Donati collected a rebound on the goal mouth and slipped it past Riopel at 18:41. The Road Warriors’ rookie netminder posted nine saves in the period.
A hard working shift by Elmira, midway through the third period, that pinned Greenville in its own end for an extended shift changed the complexion of Wednesday’s game in a big way. After the Road Warriors missed a couple of opportunities to clear, Ian McDonald rifled a shot from the slot that left a rebound in front of Riopel. A.J. Perry swooped in and lifted a shot just under the crossbar and put the Jackals up 3-2. Just over a minute after Perry’s goal the Road Warriors began a parade to the penalty box that gave Elmira three consecutive power plays, including a lengthy 5-on-3. With the two-man advantage, Yannick Tifu banked a hard-angle shot off of Riopel and in for a two-goal advantage at 13:21. Greenville made things interesting late with Mark Voakes’ goal at 18:25 and Riopel pulled for the extra attacker. That one-goal deficit, though, grew back to two thanks to empty-net goals by Lampe and Dale Mahovsky for Elmira.
Riopel was saddled with the loss as he made 27 saves on the night. The Road Warriors were 1-for-6 on the power play and 10-for-11 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return to home ice for Game Three of their quarterfinals series with Elmira on Friday, April 8. Start time is set for 7:05 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. Pre-game festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. with a block party on the plaza outside of the Charter Business Entrance. Free food from Quaker Steak and Lube, as well as half-priced beer, will be available for anyone holding a ticket to the game and RetroVertigo will be playing a free concert. Individual tickets start as low as $9 and can be purchased at the BI-LO Center Box Office or any Ticketmaster outlet. Groups of 10 or more get discounted tickets and preferred seating based on availability. Group outings can be booked by calling 864-674-PUCK.