BY: Ray Schmitt , Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
The Greenville Road Warriors defeated the Chicago Express 3-2 in overtime thanks, in part, to the efforts of goalie Brian Hince who was making his first career ECHL start. The Road Warriors improved their record to 17-10-2 on the season.
Playing without either of their regular goaltenders, Nic Riopel and Jason Missiaen, the Road Warriors made sure to give new goalie Hince as much help as possible in the first against the Express. Greenville limited Chicago to six shots on goal and Hince was there to turn away each attempt. Chicago brought its best pressure early in the frame when Sean Berkstresser took a hooking minor 3:08 into the contest. After killing off Chicago’s only power play of the period, the Road Warriors received a chance of their own on the man advantage, but could not find a way to beat Chicago goalie Paul Dainton.
Without many scoring chances in the first, the Road Warriors wasted no time getting the offense in gear in the second as Jyri Niemi beat Dainton with a wrist shot from the left point. The goal was Niemi’s first in the ECHL and came 53 seconds into the second. The Road Warriors generated a number of quality chances on a power play that shortly followed, but were unable to extend the lead. Nathan Lutz then capitalized on a breakaway that evened the score at 15:10 of the second. The Road Warriors out-shot Chicago 14-7 in the frame but headed into the third with the score deadlocked.
Once again it was an early strike from a Greenville defenseman that put the Road Warriors up by a goal in the third. Francis Meilleur cashed in on a 3-on-2 rush with Justin Bowers and Brandon Wong 1:37 into the period. The goal was Meilleur’s second of the season. The Road Warriors had to kill off multiple Chicago power plays in the third and nearly survived with the lead intact, but a shot from Kyle Ostrow deflected off of Jeff Caister and past Hince to tie the score with less than four minutes to play. At the end of the third, the Express’ Chaz Johnson was whistled for cross checking and put Greenville on a power play to begin overtime. With the advantage, the Road Warriors scored their lone power play goal of the night for the game winner. The goal appeared to come off the stick of Brandon Wong and rip a hole in the top right corner of the net, but it was credited on the score sheet to Justin Bowers.
Hince turned in 22 saves in earning the victory. The Road Warriors were 1-for-3 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return home to take on the Gwinnett Gladiators on Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 7:35 p.m. at the BI-LO Center. The Road Warriors will host another Throwback Thursday which features select draft beers, fountain drinks, hot dogs, and pretzels for just $2! Also, college students can get in for $6 with a valid ID and groups of 10 or more are eligible for discounted tickets and preferred seating based on availability. Call 864-674-PUCK (7825) for more information.