FHL Weekend Wrap-Up: Sweeps, Mentor breaks thru, Elmira wows, and more!

This is a new thing we’re going to try to do every weekend, as just a way to quick look back at the weekend that was in the FHL. We’ll write about whatever is on our minds, our Three Stars of the Weekend, and whatever else we can think of.

It’s a month into the FHL season and every team has played at least seven games so we’re starting to get an idea of who these teams are as we head into the Thanksgiving weekend.

This might have been the biggest weekend in FHL history for a couple big reasons, so let’s dive right in.

Three Stars of the Weekend

NOTE: This isn’t just for players, yes, if a player has a huge weekend we’ll give them some love, but this could be anything from a great promotion, to a hilarious incident that happened on the ice, to a great performance. Really just whatever caught our eye in the FHL this weekend.

THIRD STAR: Teams who sweep

Carolina and Danville flexed their muscle this weekend, each taking two wins against tough teams. The Thunderbirds picked up a pair of hard-fought wins against an improving Elmira squad that was playing in front of packed houses this weekend. So to come away with two wins while only giving up one goal on the weekend is very impressive.

The Dashers meanwhile, remained the only team without a loss on home ice this year, and showed off their offensive firepower in 6-2 and 5-3 wins over the defending champion Watertown Wolves. The Dashers lead the league in goals scored with 38 in eight games, a whopping 4.75 goals per game, and have given up the second fewest goals in the league, a pretty good combo to have.

It may only be eight games in, but it appears Danville and Carolina have already started to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Can Watertown or one of the other three teams below them step-up and make it more than a two-team race, or are we destined for a Danville-Carolina showdown for the Commissioner’s Cup?

SECOND STAR: The Mentor Ice Breakers win!

To say the Mentor Ice Breakers were off to a rough start is an understatement. They dropped the first six games of the year, with none of the games closer than three goals, and in only one of those games did they give up fewer than six goals. Well Saturday night in Port Huron they finally put it all together, erupting for six goals to claim a 6-4 win, the first in franchise history.

Mark Essery had a hat trick in the win, and goalie Derek Moser stopped a whopping 50 shots in the win.

The Breakers brought in reinforcements before the series with a handful of players from the recently folded Berlin BlackJacks, and hopefully that helps steady them over the rest of the season. But either way, when you have a rough start and respond with a win on the road for the first in team history, it’s reason to celebrate. We’ll find out in a hurry how much the Breakers have improved as they ready for three against first-place Carolina.

FIRST STAR: The fans in Elmira

We said it the day they were announced as the newest FHL team, but getting Elmira in the FHL was the biggest day in league history, and this weekend proved they were worth the wait.

At the first home game in team history Friday night, the Enforcers packed First Arena beyond capacity, bringing in a sold out, standing room-only crowd of 4,310 people to witness a hard-fought 2-1 loss to Carolina. That 4,310 mark set a new FHL single-game attendance record, smashing the previous mark set in 2012 by the Williamsport Outlaws when they brought 3,447 to Airmen Pond for the first game in franchise history, which was also outdoors.

And if you thought Friday night’s crowd was a fluke, the fans were in full-force Saturday as well, with 3,471 people coming through the turnstiles, just 300 people short of another sellout.

So on back-to-back nights, the Elmira Enforcers and their fans set the FHL attendance for the largest crowd in league history, and then the second largest crowd in league history. Extremely well done by the fans and the folks at the Enforcers to market the team that well.

It will be interesting to see how attendance goes the rest of the season, but even if attendance is half of what it was this weekend, it will still be an amazingly successful season, at least at the gate, in Elmira.

More Teams Should Do This

One of the more pleasant surprises we’ve stumbled upon this year is finding out that EVERY Port Huron Prowlers home game is broadcast LIVE and FREE on Facebook this season thanks to something called EBW.TV. Seriously, on game day just search for them, and they go live.

And honestly, EBW.TV does a pretty good job for a free broadcast on Facebook! The play-by-play guy is solid, there’s multiple camera views, and even a score graphic. For it being free, this is more than you would expect from a team, and it’s a great way to keep up with the Prowlers, or a way to watch your favorite FHL team on the road without having to fork over money.

No offense to the new broadcast partner of the FHL, but I can’t imagine many people are paying $5 a game to see their favorite team live, so why not make the games free as a gesture of goodwill, and a way to help out either fans of the visiting team, or your own fans who may not be able to make it to the rink?

So kudos to the Prowlers and EBW.TV for doing a great job of covering the home games at McMorran Place this season, and making it easy for fans at home to tune in and watch.

This Week’s Schedule

Wednesday, Nov. 21

  • Elmira at Watertown, 6:30pm
  • Danville at Port Huron, 7pm
  • Carolina at Mentor, 7:35pm

Thursday, Nov. 22

  • Mentor at Carolina, 7:35pm

Friday, Nov. 23

  • Port Huron at Elmira, 7:05pm
  • Danville at Watertown, 7:30pm

Saturday, Nov. 24

  • Mentor at Carolina, 6:05pm
  • Port Huron at Elmira, 7:05pm
  • Danville at Watertown, 7:30pm

For me, the game that stands out most is Wednesday’s tilt in Watertown between the Wolves and Enforcers, we asked earlier if any of the other four teams could step-up and join Danville and Carolina in the race for the top of the league, and this game could be barometer of things to come, same with the weekend series when Port Huron heads to Elmira in a pair of pivotal games between two teams currently tied for the fourth playoff spot.

 

 

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