Falanga OT goal lifts Hat Trick to 5-4 win

by Jim Cerny

Michael Falanga’s second goal of the game, with 41.3 seconds remaining in overtime, lifted the Danbury Hat Tricks to a thrilling 5-4 win against the Columbus River Dragons at Danbury Arena on Saturday.

The goal capped a wild sequence, where each team believed it had won. The Hat Tricks thought Falanga scored on a drive to the net and began to celebrate but the referee waved off the apparent goal. The River Dragons kept playing and Jacob Kelly scored on a breakaway at the other end of the ice, seemingly to end the game. The on-ice officials converged to discuss what happened and decided that Falanga had scored, giving the Hat Tricks the victory.

Falanga also scored on a breakaway at 2:41 of the first period to give Danbury a quick 2-0 lead, shortly after Dustin Jesseau scored his team-leading 25th goal 1:09 into the game. Falanga has eight goals this season.

Columbus pulled even before the first intermission. Alex Storjohann scored his 21st goal at 12:57 and Kelly scored at 19:45 to make it 2-2.

The Hat Tricks started quickly again in the second period. Michael Marchesan scored an unassisted goal 43 seconds into the period. Then Lucas DeBenedet made it 4-2 for Danbury, scoring at 3:55.

Again, the River Dragons came back to tie the game before the intermission, scoring on both ends of a 5-on-3 power play. Kelly scored his second goal of the game, 30th this season, at 17:12 during the two-man advantage. Jay Croop then scored a 5-on-4 goal 20 seconds later to tie the game, 4-4.

Jesseau and DeBendet each had a goal and an assist for Danbury and Dmitry Kuznetsov had two assists. Brian Wilson made 26 saves for his League-high 17th win in goal.

Storjohann led Columbus with three points (one goal, two assists) and Christian Pavlas finished with 28 saves.

The Hat Tricks ended their season series with a 2-1-1 record against the River Dragons. Three of the four games were decided in overtime or a shootout, including each of Danbury’s wins.

Danbury will travel to Watertown next weekend (Feb. 10-12) for a three-game series against the Wolves.