Hat Tricks look to bounce back in weekend set with Enforcers - Series Preview (12/27 & 28)

by Casey Bryant

The Streak is dead. Long live the New Streak. The Danbury Hat Tricks' historic string of wins came to an end last night in Mentor despite multiple comeback efforts. An early 3-0 deficit proved to be too big to overcome, as the Ice Breakers topped the Hat Tricks 6-5 in regulation.

Now, Danbury turns their attention to a home-and-home set with the Enforcers beginning in Elmira tonight at 7pm. Live game streaming will be available on the Enforcers' Youtube channel. Tomorrow's matchup at Danbury Arena will be on the Hat Tricks' Youtube channel.

Let's take a look at what fans can expect from this Eastern Division showdown.

a test of depth

The Hat Tricks had only 14 skaters dressed last night in Mentor, a number which did not include Cory Anderson or recent SPHL call-up Jonny Ruiz and did include head coach Billy McCreary skating on the blueline. Even with all of the rotations in the lineup, the Hat Tricks battled back to cut the deficit to just one goal on four different occasions in last night's contest.

Nicola Levesque and Aaron Atwell both registered three-point nights, while Carter Shinkaruk and Casper Dyrssen each notched two. Gordy Bonnel netted a shorthanded goal to give the Hat Tricks their third shorthanded goal in their last two games.

With the bench getting shorter by the day and reinforcements still on the way, Danbury will need all hands on deck. 

Powerplay blues

Danbury entered last night's game having scored the most powerplay goals in the Eastern Division and second-most in the FPHL. However, the Hat Tricks went 0-for-8 on the man advantage, including two separate extensive 5-on-3 opportunities. One of those 5-on-3s came in the third period trailing by two. 

It will take time to adjust to not having Ruiz on the top powerplay unit anymore, but such is the nature of the FPHL. Players come and go, and teams need to be resilient and deep enough to execute. 

a huge series for elmira

Since getting swept in a three-game series by the Hat Tricks Thanksgiving week, the Enforcers have rattled off a few impressive wins. They took both games of a weekend set with the Watertown Wolves, they beat the Carolina Thunderbirds in a shootout, and even overcame a 5-1 deficit to steal a victory away from the Battle Creek Rumble Bees. 

The problem is that everyone else in the Eastern Division has been winning as well.

Danbury's streak gave them a bit of a cushion at the top spot, and the Wolves' hot start is helping pad this current skid (having games in hand also helps). Mentor remains within striking distance of the top spot, and even the fifth-seeded Delaware Thunder have begun to turn things around.

The Enforcers recognize that this is a prime chance to bring themselves back into the race for first in the East. The division is still wide open, and nobody's playoff seeding is safe. 

Final thoughts

Eleven straight wins is impressive. It's done wonders for both the team's confidence and the fanbase's enthusiasm. But the true test for a team's mettle is not so much how long can the streak continue, but how does the team respond when it finally comes to an end. These next two games will be a good litmus test for just how tough this Danbury team is.

Tickets to Saturday's home game are available by clicking here.