Hat Tricks host Elmira in Divisional showdown - Series Preview (1/17 & 18)

by Casey Bryant

The Danbury Hat Tricks look to improve on their stellar home record, as they test their eight-game home win streak against the rival Elmira Enforcers. Friday night is New Haven Night at the arena, with the team wearing black-and-orange New Haven Nighthawks-inspired throwback jerseys, while Saturday is a celebration of both the Danbury Chamber of Commerce and Danbury Arena's adult hockey league players.

Live game streaming can be found on the Hat Tricks' Youtube channel. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

Let's take a look at what fans can expect on the ice.

dk's return

With Tom McGuckin promoted to the SPHL, there's an opening for the new number one goaltender for the Danbury Hat Tricks. Dillon Kelley picked up where he left off in his first start since returning from Peoria, stopping 31 shots in a 5-4 win over the Delaware Thunder, and will likely get a chance at both games this weekend. 

Kelley may sport a 6-1-0 record in black-and-orange, but Nick Niedert's most recent performance was a gem against these same Elmira Enforcers. Niedert turned aside 30 enemy chances to earn his first win of the season on December 28th on home ice. The veteran is a spark plug, able to slot in at a moment's notice and take a game over. If not for a recent call-up to the ECHL as an emergency back-up goaltender for the Reading Royals this Friday, Niedert might have made an appearance. It remains to be seen if he will be available Saturday with travel to Pennsylvania.

With the three goaltenders combining for a 10-1-2 record at home, the Hat Tricks ought to feel confident regardless of who is manning the crease.  

The ahmed mahfouz show

Ahmed Mahfouz is just three points shy of 800 career FPHL points in just 384 career games. It's undeniable that Mahfouz is the greatest scorer in the history of the league, and he's been proving why. He registered seven points last weekend in a split weekend with the Watertown Wolves, and is currently riding a streak of six straight multi-point performances. 

Hudson Michaelis has been a good complement to Mahfouz, racking up 11 points on a five-game point streak. Quarterbacking the offense from the blueline has been Dale Deon, who had three points in a home-and-home set against the Hat Tricks at the end of December.

At 11-12-2-2, the Elmira Enforcers may be fourth in the East, but they have the offensive weapons to cause havoc. As solid as the supporting cast is, at the end of the day, the Enforcers will go as Ahmed Mahfouz goes. 

the bounce of the puck

In the most recent meeting between these two teams, the game was ultimately decided by a wonky bounce off the glass divider behind the Enforcers' net. With the score knotted at two, a routine dump-in around the boards became a loose puck in front with no one in the vicinity but Carter Shinkaruk. Thus, a stellar 39-save outing from Enforcers goaltender Michael Stiliadis was spoiled.

Three of the last four encounters have been decided by just one goal. Though the Hat Tricks have gotten the better of the Enforcers in six of seven matchups, it has been far from an easy road. 

final thoughts

If nothing else, it will be a great opportunity for fans to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future Friday night as the Hat Tricks sport their throwback jerseys. The New Haven Nighthawks (and Knights and Beast, for that matter) still hold a sacred place in the hearts of many a Connecticut hockey fan. 

The night is sponsored by New Haven Nighthawks Brewing Company, whose IPAs and drafts are available at Danbury Arena's Rabbit Hole bar, and by TK's American Café, formerly a staple outside the New Haven Coliseum. 

Expect a special energy in the building that night as the nostalgia flows.