Hat Tricks vs Enforcers - Series Preview (11/15 & 16)
The Hat Tricks are on home ice this weekend after splitting with the Carolina Thunderbirds. Back in their barn with the first win of the season out of the way, here's what fans can keep an eye on Friday and Saturday night.
stability in net
Dillon Kelley was terrific in his first two starts with the Hat Tricks, earning the first win in franchise history last Friday in a 3-2 performance. He made another 43 saves on Saturday, keeping Danbury in a 6-5 barnburner with the reigning champs. Kelley is a commanding presence between the pipes, utilizing the full reach of his 6'5" frame to his advantage. With SPHL and ECHL experience under his belt, Kelley could quickly endear himself to the Danbury faithful with a strong outing this weekend.
Tom McGuckin has also seen time between the pipes, with a vastly different strategy. Standing at 5'10", McGuckin likes to challenge shooters and aggressively cut off shooting lanes. He came excruciatingly close to a win in Danbury's second game of the year on home ice, falling in overtime 4-3 to the Port Huron Prowlers.
Regardless of who gets the nod in net, the Hat Tricks are getting stronger by the day. Stability starts in the blue paint and works its way out, and the black-and-orange are in a solid position.
biscuit in the basket
Elmira has been very stingy defensively this season. After starting their season with back to back shutout losses to Carolina, they've won three of their last four and have held their opponent to four goals or fewer in all seven games. They had the second-best goal differential last season at +51, which they rode to the Commissioner's Cup Final against the Carolina Thunderbirds.
Longtime FPHL vet Ahmed Mahfouz is the current leader on Elmira in points, boasting three goals and six assists through six games. He had 82 points last season in Elmira and has 761 career points in 371 FPHL games. He's a Fed lifer, and one of the best in the league after 10 seasons. Shut down #19 and go to work grinding against this tough defensive squad.
response to adversity
The shift after a goal on either side is always key. The Hat Tricks did a terrific job last weekend in Carolina of responding after a goal allowed, which was a pleasant change of pace from prior games in which Danbury surrendered goals in the minutes following a goal scored.
That said, multi-goal leads have eluded the Hat Tricks so far this season. Going forward, they'll need to put the pedal to the metal and start providing themselves some cushioning. String together multiple strong shifts and take it to the Enforcers.
This is Elmira's first trip to Danbury. They'll be facing two raucous crowds in the Hat City. If the Tricks can get the crowd into it early, they'll really be in the driver's seat.