Hat Tricks vs Mammoth Playoff Preview

by Herm Sorcher

The 2023 Commissioner’s Cup Playoffs begin this week with the Columbus River Dragons and Motor City Rockers doing the honors with a Wednesday evening duel. The 2022-23 Regular Season Champion Danbury Hat Tricks kick off their cup chase against the Elmira Mammoth on Friday night for a best two-out-of-three playoff series. Games two and three are at the Danbury Ice Arena on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The Hat Tricks (44-7-5) and Mammoth (14-35-7) met ten times through the course of the season with Danbury successfully claiming victories in all ten matchups. Nine were regulation victories. The only game to go into overtime this season came on November 25th when the Hat Tricks came back from down 4-1 with under seven minutes left in regulation time. Michael Marchesan (46GP, 34G/24A/58P) led the way with two goals and an assist for three points, one goal coming on a beautiful highlight caliber play between his legs.  

More recently, the Hat Tricks swept a three-game series against the Mammoth with the final two matchups coming in Danbury to close the home regular season series and secure the regular season crown in the process.

Marchesan flexed his scoring prowess against the Mammoth again with a four-goal game in the Hat Tricks’ regular season home finale, the third such game in Hat Tricks history. Lucas DeBenedet (26GP, 14G/17A/31P) added five points of his own in the 8-5 romp.

Hat Tricks Captain Jonny Ruiz (46GP, 35G/25A/60P) leads the team in goals and overall scoring. He was also voted to the FPHL’s Second-Team All-Star unit. Rookie defenseman Jarod Yau (51GP, 2G/35A/37P) recorded the most assists in the regular season and tied John MacDonald (48GP, 8G/29A/37P) for the most points among Hat Tricks blue-liners.

The backbone of the Hat Tricks has been their goaltending, spearheaded by FPHL Co-Goaltender of the Year, Brian Wilson (41GP, .919SV%/2.68GAA/31-5-5). The Niagara Purple Eagle alumnus set the record for wins by a goaltender in the league’s history and finished second in the league in save percentage and goals against average while leading the league in minutes played (2441:03), shots faced(1349), and saves made (1240).

Frankie McClendon (11GP, .917SV%/2.19GAA/10-2-0) backed up Wilson well and gave the Hat Tricks one of the most consistent goaltending tandems in hockey this season.

The Hat Tricks enter the weekend with eight straight wins and 18 wins in 19 games dating back to a February 17th trip to Binghamton.

Elmira enters the weekend on a seven game skid and looks to reverse course. The Mammoth enter their first postseason in franchise history with a pair of former Hat Tricks, Luke Richards (51GP, 20G/24A/44GP) and Tristan Mock (31GP, 5G/17A/22P), leading the way. Richards in particular has performed well against his former team, with three goals and three assists for six points in five games against the Hat Tricks. Richards is also riding a five game point streak into the weekend series.

Tate Leeson (41GP, 18G/20A/38P) and Nick Gullo (43GP, 10G/27A/37P) are two other top scorers whom the Hat Tricks will have to contend with on the Mammoth. Most prominently, the Hat Tricks have a strong opponent between the pipes in Thomas Proudlock (33GP, .907SV%/4.02GAA/5-14-2). He made 52 saves against the Hat Tricks and recorded a remarkable 67 saves on 73 shots faced against the Binghamton Black Bears. He’ll be a factor for the Hat Tricks’ offense to try and solve.

Game 1 of the series is on Friday night at 7:35 PM. The game will be broadcast on the Danbury Hat Tricks’ YouTube Channel.