by Hat Tricks Staff

WATERTOWN, NY – The Danbury Hat Tricks (26-12-3, 77 pts) are fresh off clinching a playoff spot and head to face the first-place Watertown Wolves (28-7-1, 83 pts).

Here are five things to know ahead of the series:

1. Playoff Push

With Friday’s game, the Hat Tricks enter the final third of the regular season. After winning two-of-three at home against Columbus last weekend, the Hat Tricks have secured their spot in the postseason.

Now, the race is on to earn a first-round bye as one of the top-two teams in the league. In the recently-announced Commissioner’s Cup playoff format, the top pair of teams will receive a bye and home-ice advantage in the second round.

At home, the Hat Tricks are 18-3-0 while the team is 8-9-3 on the road. Danbury has 10 remaining home games on its schedule.

2. Hottest Team

Danbury enters the weekend as the league’s hottest team. The Hat Tricks have won seven of their last 10 games with five of those wins coming at home.

Over the 10-game stretch, the Hat Tricks have outscored opponents 33-31. Without including two road losses to Watertown, that figure switches to 32-18.

3. The Mad Dog

Since joining the Hat Tricks, goaltender Pete Di Salvo has won four of his five starts. Over those five games, the “Mad Dog” has recorded a .934 save-percentage.

“He is really solid for us in net,’ said head coach Dave MacIsaac. “It really helps the rest of the team to know he’ll come up with a big save if we need it.”

His lone loss came on the road to Watertown and he will get another shot at the Wolves on Friday. In his home debut, Di Salvo shutout the Wolves 4-0 on Feb. 10.

4. Series History

This weekend marks the 12th and 13th games between the Hat Tricks and Wolves this season. Watertown leads the series 7-4 thus far.

Danbury has forced two games into overtime, but has yet to record a win in Watertown.

5. Scouting the Wolves

Watertown is led by two of the league’s top-four point-scorers. Justin MacDonald leads the FPHL with 46 assists and 87 points in just 33 games. MacDonald is the only player in the league to average over two points-per-game.

Alexander Jmaeff’s 65 points are just one behind third-leading scorer, Jonny Ruiz. Jmaeff has 33 goals and 32 assists this season.

Goaltender Adam Beukeboom has been productive since joining the Wolves earlier in the month. In six games, Beukeboom has four wins and a .919 save-percentage.

Friday night’s game can be seen on the Wolves YouTube channel. The two teams will return to Danbury on Saturday night to finish the series.