BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
The Greenville Road Warriors rode a six goal outburst to a victory over the Florida Everblades on Wednesday night and earned a share of first place in the South Division. The 6-3 win improved Greenville to 24-16-2 on the season.
In an effort to put their recent road struggles behind them, the Road Warriors raced out to a 2-0 first period lead. Justin Bowers pounced on a rebound of a Brandon Wong shot to put Greenville on the board at 1:05 of the first period. Lee Baldwin was next up a 6:43 to stretch Greenville’s lead. Bowers hit Baldwin trailing a rush in the high slot and his wrist shot beat Pat Nagle cleanly. The goal chased Nagle from the net and he was replaced by Billy Sauer. Nic Riopel was challenged by 16 Florida shots in the opening frame, but was able to turn away each one he faced.
The intermission break did nothing to cool down the Road Warriors’ offense in the second period. Just under three minutes in Connor Shields found the back of the net for the 10th time this season. The power play goal came on Greenville’s first chance of the game. Florida was able to respond with Mike Ratchuk scoring in his Everblades’ debut with four minutes left to play in the period. Greenville wasted no time in responding with Jyri Niemi wristing a shot past Sauer 28 seconds after Ratchuk’s goal. Bretton Cameron earned an assist to grab a point in his Road Warriors debut.
Florida made a serious bid for a comeback in the first few minutes of the third period. It started with a goal off of a rush by Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll 33 seconds into the frame and continued with Brayden Irwin snapping a shot past Riopel at 4:01. Greenville stopped the bleeding there, though, and Jeff Prough restored the two-goal lead with 9:44 gone by. The Road Warriors then dug in their heels for the rest of Florida’s rally. The most tense moments came on a Florida power play that began with 3:14 left to play. There were two rebound opportunities that had some yawning net for Florida to shoot for, but acrobatic saves by Riopel turned away each chance. Once back at full strength, the Road Warriors got an empty-net goal from Brandon Wong to seal the win.
Riopel earned his 12th win of the season with 43 saves. The Road Warriors were 1-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Road Warriors return home on Thursday, February 9, 2012 to take on the Kalamazoo Wings. Join us for a Throwback Thursday presented by WSSL 100.5, The Greenville News and New Rock 93.3. Throwback Thursday feature select draft beers, fountain drinks, hot dogs, and pretzels for just $2, and college students can get in for just $6 with a valid ID. Your group of 10 or more can also get a discount off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability by booking in advance. Call 864-674-PUCK to book your group outing with the Road Warriors.