April 8, 2017 - Federal Hockey League (FHL) - Carolina Thunderbirds
Titans on Brink of Elimination
By Zak McGinniss
DANBURY, CT -- A pair of goals from Dean Yakura was not enough as the Berlin RiverDrivers stole Game 1 of the Commissioner's Cup Semifinals from the Danbury Titans by a score of 3-2 on Friday night at Danbury Ice Arena.
A scoreless first period saw each team playing conservatively and testing for weaknesses in the other's defense. Danbury outshot Berlin by a 10-8 margin, though Danbury's Bobby Bowden and Berlin's Matt Kaludis remained perfect.The Titans broke the deadlock 4:55 into the second period as Matt Coleman's tenacious forecheck resulted in a turnover in the corner, followed by a seeing eye pass onto the tape of Yakura at the 4:55 mark to give the Titans their only lead of the game. Former Titan Josh Pietroantonio tied things up for Berlin with a short handed goal less than three minutes later, capitalizing on an ill advised pass from Bowden to knot the game at one. Berlin outshot the Titans 10-6 in the second period and would begin the third with a power play.
The RiverDrivers were unable to convert with the man advantage, but just 4 seconds after the penalty expired, newly signed Cameron Dimmitt was left alone on the back post and guided the puck into the net to give Berlin a lead they would not relinquish at 1:39 of the third period. Pavel Kubena scored what would prove to be the game winning goal at 9:13, beating Bowden to the blocker side after hitting the crossbar just seconds before. Both goals were scored before the Danbury Titans had recorded a shot on goal in the period. Captain Dean Yakura cut the lead in half at 13:29, sliding a puck under the pads of Kaludis to make it a one goal game, but the Titans could not find the equalizer. Kaludis garnered third star of the game honors, Yakura second star, and Kubena the first star with a goal and assist.
With the loss, the Titans must now travel to Notre Dame Arena in Berlin, New Hampshire, and attempt to win two games in two days. The Titans dropped the last game of the season at Berlin, the victory that allowed the RiverDrivers to claim second place in the league and home ice advantage in the semifinal series. Game 2 is scheduled for a 7:00pm start, and Game 3, if necessary, will be played at 2:00pm the following day. Berlin now stands on the precipice of going to the first ever Commissioner's Cup Championship in only their second season of play, while the Titans are one loss away from seeing the season end on a sour note. All games of the Commissioner's Cup Playoffs can be seen on fhllive.com .
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