FAYETTEVILLE, NC – The Fayetteville FireAntz honored one of the most recognized faces in FireAntz hockey history Saturday night when they hung a banner honoring ex-goalie Chad Collins. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the evening as the FireAntz struggled to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
Chad Collins wore the number 1 for as long as he took the ice in a FireAntz uniform and current Antz goalie Sean Bonar dons the same number. Although Bonar was hoping to pay tribute to Collins with a solid performance in net, he got off to slow start and let in two early goals that put the FireAntz on their heels. Although the pace was dictated and controlled by the Fayetteville team for much of the night, they could not muster any offense until the final period when Joe Harcharik buried a rebound into an open net on the PP to bring the FireAntz to within 1 of the Ice Flyers.
The game leading up to this point was full of frustrating moments for the FireAntz. A total of 7 penalties had to be killed by the Antz on the night, and the same post kept 3 of the FireAntz shots out of the net. Not only did Pensacola seem to be getting the bounces, but they also appeared to be reaping the benefits of a couple of mental breakdowns by the Antz team. Less than two minutes into the game, Ice Flyers forward Roger Tagoona slapped a puck past Bonar that seemed to surprise the FireAntz netminder. A few moments later, Ice Flyers forward Riley Spraggs snuck a soft shot through the five-hole on Bonar after a turnover at the blueline. Before the crowd had settled in after the pre-game ceremony, the Ice Flyers had jumped out to a two-goal lead.
Towards the end of the middle period, A FireAntz forward ran into big Ice Flyers goalie John McLean, who was pushed into the net and lay on the ice for a few minutes. Matt Zenzola entered the game for the Ice Flyers, and the FireAntz were never able to get enough shots on net to challenge the fresh off the bench Zenzola. Despite pressing hard and keeping the puck in the offensive zone for much of the 3rd period, the FireAntz were only able to get six shots on goal, with two of those finding the back of the net. The 2nd and last goal scored by the FireAntz was too little too late with the extra attacker while trailing 3-1.
Bonar finished the game with 18 saves on 20 shots in the loss as the Ice Flyers put a puck into an empty net late in the contest to seal the 3-2 win. Ice Flyers goalie John McLean stopped all 17 shots he faced before having to leave the game. The win takes the Ice Flyers to 10-12-5 on the season while the FireAntz loss drops them to 14-11-1.
Sin Bin FireAntz Stars of the Game
★: John McLean (17 saves on 17 shots)
★★: Sean Gammage (Feisty, physical game on D, all over the ice despite not much in the boxscore point wise)
★★★: Joe Harcharik (1 PPG)