Prowlers spoil opener in OT, take 5-4 victory from Hat Tricks

by Casey Bryant

Fans got exactly what they wanted from their first professional Danbury hockey game in two years. Well, everything except a win.

Despite leading three different times throughout the game, Danbury failed to close it out, allowing an overtime goal just 30 seconds into extra time.

Jonny Ruiz opened the scoring for the Hat Tricks, netting his first professional goal one minute into the first period. With a bouncing puck along the far wall, Ruiz corralled it onto his stick, maneuvered out to the slot and ripped a wrister past the Prowlers netminder Chris Paulin.

Port Huron answered back minutes later when a brilliant Paul Arnott feed from the point found Matt Robertson with a yawning netmouth.

Though the Prowlers would grab the lead thanks to a fortuitous bounce off Danbury defender Kruz Listmayer, alternate captain Phil Bronner tallied in the final two minutes of the first to bring the game back to even heading into the first intermission.

The Prowlers dominated possession in the second period, but it was the Hat Tricks coming away with the lead thanks to Ruiz's second goal of the game.

Penalties abounded in the final frame, with a back-and-forth exchange of scoring. Dalton Jay netted his second of the contest to knot the game at three a side. With less than three minutes remaining in the third period, Cory Anderson potted a powerplay goal to give the Tricks their third lead. That advantage did not last long, as a shot from the high slot off the stick of Matt Stoia redirected off a Danbury defender and past Nick Niedert.

In overtime, a 2-on-1 rush generated by two of the most dangerous scorers in the FPHL was started by Larri Vartiainen and capped off by finished by Matt Graham.

"We showed a lot of character," Hat Tricks head coach Billy McCreary commented after the game. "Any time we went through adversity, the guys didn't shy away from it...our defensive zone play has got to get a little better."

McCreary specifically found plenty of positives in the play of rookie Jonny Ruiz, who in his first pro game notched two go-ahead goals. 

"He brings a lot of energy, he's very vocal. For him to take the next stop, he's gotta be solid in all three zones. He's definitely a big part of what we're doing.

"Danbury Arena, it's an electric place," he concluded, praising the packed crowd that gave his team a standing ovation following the overtime loss. "We want to give them more to cheer about."

The Hat Tricks will get an opportunity for revenge tomorrow night at 7pm, as they square off with the Prowlers for the second game of the regular season. Tickets are available at or by calling 203-794-1704. Tickets are also available for the NWHL's Connecticut Whale home game, held at 3:30pm at Danbury Arena.