Marlboro, MA- Colton Phinney made 48 saves and was credited with the game-winning goal as the Islanders Hockey Club defeated the Jersey Hitmen 4-1 to force a decisive third game of the EJHL Dineen Cup Championship Series.
The teams came out flying and much like in the series opener, the Hitmen seized an early territorial advantage. Phinney and the Islanders kept them off the board, but Jack Riley set up Josh Henke on the right side and Henke blasted a shot at Phinney. The goaltender made the save, but Dominic Trento swooped in and buried the rebound 8:04 into the game.
Zach Sanford tied the game with 4:02 on the clock when he picked up a loose puck, skated in and toe-dragged it around Hitmen goaltender Chris Funkey before knocking it in the net.
The Islanders grabbed the lead on a bizarre play just as the Hitmen were about to go on a power play with around two minutes remaining in the period. Funkey skated off for the extra attacker and the Hitmen peppered Phinney with shots, but the Islanders goaltender stood his ground. Phinney made a save, but the puck bounced back to one of the Hitmen. Another shot was fired at the net and hit the post, bounced off the end boards, and slid all the way into the empty net. As Phinney was the last Islander to touch the puck, he was credited with the goal.
Neither team scored in the second period despite plenty of chances for each team.
Phinney and Funkey continued to frustrate the teams throughout most of the third period. The Islanders, however, found another crack in Funkey with 2:07 to play when Michael Doherty banged home Chris Izmirlian’s rebound. Conor MacPhee also assisted on the play.
Funkey skated off for an extra attacker with 1:19 on the clock after a 25-save performance, but Ian McGilvrey sealed the victory with seven seconds remaining.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)