Dolgy's Hat Trick Clinches Playoff Spot for Wolves
By Jay Harris
The Watertown Wolves battled the Berlin River Drivers at the Watertown Municipal Arena Sunday evening. A win for the Wolves would secure a spot in the Federal Hockey League playoffs. Berlin would move back up to second place if they come out on top at the end of the intense 60 minutes.
Both teams demonstrated their penalty killing prowess in the first period. Colin McIntosh got the first penalty for tripping just four minutes into the period. Berlin's Nick Wright and Watertown's Jeremy Akeson received off-setting penalties for slashing and contact to the head respectively. Berlin then had to kill a penalty for too many men on the ice. Penalties to Matt Fuller for slashing, Kyllian Kirkwood for tripping, and Justin Apcar-Blaszak eventually created a 5-on-3 penalty kill for the Wolves that they successfully killed. Despite all the action on the ice, neither Berlin's Matt Kaludis nor Watertown's Danilla Allistratov let any pucks in the net to keep the game scoreless at the end of the first period.
The Wolves put up a trio of goals in the second mixed in with a melee. Jeremy Akeson put the Wolves on the board first just 45 seconds into the period with assists from fellow Alternate Captain Justin Apcar-Blaszak and Jason Dolgy. Jason Dolgy scored the second goal off a pass from Scott Roy to make it a 2-0 game. The 13:30 mark of the period was a detonator for a melee on the ice. Jason Dolgy's stick incidentally caught a Berlin player inciting the River Drivers to begin a blitzkrieg on the Wolves' players on the ice. The most noticeable offense in the melee came from Nick Wright when he proceeded to attack team Captain Brett Liscomb while he was already down on the ice. Wright earned a 2-minute instigator, 5-minute major for fighting, and a game misconduct from the incident earning him an ejection from the game. Also earning 5-minute majors and game misconducts were Berlin's Edgar Ozolins, Josh Pietrantonio, Pavel Kubena, and Watertown's Ryan Connolly, Jeremy Akeson, Justin Apcar-Blaszak, and Marley Keca. Jason Dolgy was charged with a slashing minor. The Wolves were the first of the two teams to get their head back into the game when Kyle Powell made the score for the end of the period 3-0 with help from Kyllian Kirkwood and Colin McIntosh. The Wolves thought they had a fourth goal in the period, but it was called off by the officials as the last Wolves' stick to touch the puck was high.
The River Drivers looked as they may mount a comeback when Matt Fuller scored to make the game 3-1. John Celli's double minor for roughing gave the Wolves a power play that Jason Dolgy saw as his second scoring opportunity when he was helped by Colin McIntosh and Jesse Facchini to bring the score to 4-1. Berlin's second goal came from Tyler Howe bouncing the puck off goal tender Danilla Allistratov's skate. Jason Dolgy's hat trick goal of the night came with just seven seconds left in the game off an assist from Kyllian Kirkwood for a final score of 5-2 for the Wolves.
Watertown Wolves Head Coach Phil Esposito shared the following comments about tonight's game: "It was an emotional game tonight. The guys understood where we left ourselves after the Danbury game the other night. It was all business tonight. All of a sudden we had that raucous in the second period where a lot of guys got kicked out. We had been playing so well at that point I think it just carried on from what we had. We played a stellar game tonight and that's what we're going need to know for us to beat Danville and move forward into the playoffs. Our defense played really well. It was a good start to our playoffs season right there."
Jason Dolgy's hat trick earned him the First Star of the Game honors. Colin McIntosh and Kyle Powell received the second and third respectively for their scoring efforts. The Wolves finish their regular season with two games against the top seed team in the Federal Hockey League the Danville Dashers on their home ice in Illinois on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1.