Welcome Back Joe! Prowlers Split Home Opening Weekend Series

The Port Huron Prowlers hosted the Columbus River Dragons over this past weekend in their first home series of the 2019-2020 FPHL season. There were a few new faces in the Prowler's line-up this weekend with Chris Leveille, Johnathan Juliano and Dalton Young making their seasonal debuts.

In Friday’s contest, the River Dragons took a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Jay Croop and Chad Herron on two plays goaltender Chris Paulin would have liked to have back. On the goal from Croop, Paulin was essentially knocked out of the net by defenseman Dalton Young leading to Croop backhanding a shot into an empty net. On the Herron goal, Paulin came out to play a puck behind the net and tried to dump it around the boards. The Puck would bounce off David Powlowski and fall right to the slot, where Chad Herron put it in the empty net.

Dalton Young would put the Prowlers on the board with 16 seconds left in the first period with a terrific wrist shot from the point that beat Ryland Pashovitz. It was Young’s first career FPHL goal and first since 2013 when he was a member of the Saginaw Spirit.

In the second period, the Prowlers would take a 3-2 lead starting with a power play goal from Justin Portillo. A pass from Matt Graham deflected off his skate and slid past Pashovitz. Zach Zulkanycz would then wrist a shot past Pashovitz on a three-on-one opportunity, set up with some nifty passing from Dalton Jay and Johnathan Juliano.

But the River Dragons would score two straight power play goals to take a 4-3 lead. They would hang onto in the third period to win game one by the same score.

On Saturday night, Prowlers player/head coach Joe Pace returned from a five-game suspension and with his physical play, helped ignite a spark under his team.

This time the Prowlers would strike first with a power play goal from Justin Portillo. After a shot from the point coming from Matt Stoia was blocked in front, Portillo would pick up the loose puck and roof it past Jared Rutledge for his third goal of the season.

Columbus would answer right back eight seconds later when an errant pass from Matt Stoia was picked up in the slot by CJ Hayes who would fire it home to tie the game.

But Chris Leveille had the last say during the period when he snapped home a shot from a cross slot pass from Matt Robertson to put the Prowlers up 2-1 with 18 seconds left in the period.

Dalton Jay and Matt Robertson would find the back of the net in the second period for Port Huron and the Prowlers cruised into the third period with a commanding 4-1 lead.

But Columbus didn't give up the fight and would score twice in the third period. Eventually,  the Prowlers would hang on to win the game with their own score of 4-3.

Head Coach Joe Pace shared his thoughts on the home opening weekend.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s opening weekend. On Friday night the fans were unbelievable and the atmosphere was one to remember,” Pace said. “It was a shame we didn’t get the win. Friday’s contest was a game of man-advantages. Going into Saturday night, getting to play my first game of the year, added that much more pressure for me and the rest of the guys to deliver our fans a win in our first home series.”

Coach Pace also touched on his experience of returning to the lineup for the first time since April.

“Obviously, it is always nice to be back in the lineup. It’s not easy doing what Matt Graham and I do in our dual roles. So, it was nice getting to suit up with the guys as it seems they still needed this old guy to help them pick up their first regulation win of the season.”

The Prowlers will host the River Dragons once more next weekend for another two-game set. Friday’s game is set for 7:30 and Saturday’s for 6:00.

By: Jeremy Skiba