Hat Tricks clinch playoffs but fall to River Dragons in OT

by Casey Bryant

The Columbus River Dragons put a stop to the Hat Tricks' winning streak, taking a 4-3 overtime victory at Danbury Arena.

Matyas Kasek opened the scoring for the Hat Tricks with a powerplay goal in the early goings of the first period. Though Danbury would control the pace of play for most of the opening frame, the River Dragons would even up the score with less than a minute remaining in the period. Anton Lennartsson would beat Dillon Kelley through the five-hole to get the River Dragons on the board.

Columbus would gain the lead in the second period courtesy of an Ivan Bondarenko backhander. Cory Anderson would respond for the Hat Tricks minutes later, sniping a wrist shot past Cody Karpinski. Matyas Kasek would get his second of the game late in the second to send the game into the second intermission with a 3-2 Danbury lead.

With time ticking down in regulation, Columbus' captain Chase Fallis would force overtime with a goal with 2:36 remaining. 

Both sides would trade odd-man rushes in the overtime period, but it was a CJ Hayes wrist shot that put the game away, sealing a 4-3 overtime win for the River Dragons.

Despite the loss, the Hat Tricks clinched a playoff spot by earning a point. Columbus also earned a playoff berth, eliminating the Battle Creek Rumble Bees.

"They're a hard-working team," commented Hat Tricks head coach Billy McCreary. "When you give them time and space, they're going to make you pay. We gotta make a few adjustments, but there's nothing to over-analyze."

McCreary coached in tandem with his father, Bill McCreary Sr., for the first time tonight. McCreary Sr., a former NHL player with the Toronto Maple Leafs, traveled from Brighton, Michigan to join up with the Hat Tricks.

"It's a dream come true," he continued. "He coached me my whole life, I like to think he molded me into the man I am today. It's a blessing to have him here."

The Danbury Hat Tricks rematch the Columbus River Dragons tomorrow night at Danbury Arena. Tickets are available by clicking here. Children and teachers enrolled in a preschool or daycare receive complimentary tickets to tomorrow's game as well as a bag of carrots to throw after the first goal as part of the Hat Tricks' Daycare and Preschool Night. More information can be found here.