by Hat Tricks Staff

COLUMBUS, GA – The Danbury Hat Tricks (27-13-3, 80 pts) make their only trip of the season to face the Columbus River Dragons (22-12-4, 70 pts) this weekend.

Here are five things to know ahead of the series:

1. Playoff Bound

The Hat Tricks and the River Dragons are two of the three FPHL teams to clinch a playoff berth so far this season.

Danbury clinched a few games ago and Columbus clinched their spot just last weekend. The Hat Tricks currently sit in second place, holding a slim lead over third-place Columbus.

“This is a great test for us to play in their building,” said head coach Dave MacIsaac. “This might be the toughest atmosphere we play in on the road all year.”

2. Bolstered Back-End

On Wednesday, the Hat Tricks recalled Vinnie Susi from his loan to the Pensacola Ice Flyers (SPHL).

Susi spent two months in the SPHL, playing six games for Huntsville and 11 for Pensacola. In total, Susi scored a goal, added two assists and recorded a plus-three rating.

Susi last played for the Hat tricks in an overtime win against the Carolina Thunderbirds on January 2nd.

3. Last Time Out

In their last game, the Hat Tricks powered by the league-leading Watertown Wolves, winning 6-2 on home-ice last Saturday.

Jonny Ruiz scored twice in the contest to bring his goal total up to 39. He is third in the league in goals scored and fourth with 69 points.

Pete Di Salvo made 33 saves in the win, but will not be with the team in Columbus this weekend. Brian Wilson and Frankie McClendon will share the net for Danbury against the River Dragons.

4. Season Series

The Hat Tricks and River Dragons played the first half of their season series two weeks ago in Danbury when the Hat Tricks won two of the three games.

In the first two games of that series, Danbury limited Columbus to just three total goals and scored four in each to win both games.

Columbus got its offense going in the series finale, scoring five to salvage the final game of the series.

5. Scouting the River Dragons

Columbus is led by Josh Pietrantonio’s 30 goals and 64 points this season. Pietrantonio will log a lot of ice-time throughout the series, playing in all situations. His nine power-play goals are tied for third in the league (Jonny Ruiz leads the league with 12).

Columbus has given up the fewest goals in the league (127) in 38 total games. The River Dragons’ defense is led by goaltenders Bailey MacBurnie and Mike Cosentino. MacBurnie has held the main share of the net, posting a .904 save-percentage and 3.10 goals-against-average in 20 starts.

Cosentino recently joined Columbus from the Delaware Thunder and has made two starts for the Dragons. Cosentino is 1-1 with a .915 save-percentage.

Friday’s puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on the Columbus YouTube channel.