When a hockey season rolls into playoffs, it’s hard to find a position more important than goalie.
The Port Huron Prowlers are preparing to take the ice in the Federal Hockey League playoffs and their goalie has been playing lights out.
Over the three-game weekend, Andy DiCristofaro was in net for a pair of games that also ended in big wins. In Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Brewster Bulldogs, DiCristofaro had 44 saves. He followed that performance with 26 saves in a 4-1 win over the Danville Dashers on Sunday to secure home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
For his wall-like efforts in front of the net, DiCristofaro is the Times Herald Athlete of the Week.
“That was one of the better games we played, especially coming off a loss (against Dayton) the night before,” DiCristofaro said. “It was a good game to have.”
With the win on Sunday, Port Huron will now travel to Danville for the first game of a best-of-three series against the Dashers. The next two games will be played on Saturday and Sunday, if needed.
That home ice advantage could be huge as Port Huron finished the regular season at 21-7 at home and 15-12 on the road. Danville also thrives at home, going 18-10 in their home arena and 15-13 in enemy territory.
In the other semifinal, the Danbury Titans have home ice over Dayton.
“All four teams in the playoffs right now are dangerous – it’s a different game,” Prowlers forward Dustin Skinner said. “This is my fifth season, and this is my third year in a row making playoffs, so it’s a different game. The regular season doesn’t matter anymore.”
Skinner is just one of the Prowlers veterans that have championship experience. Another is the dangerous Ahmed Mahfouz, who is starting to get comfortable playing again after missing most of the second half of the season with an injury and a three game suspension.
“I’ve played like four games in three months,” Mahfouz said. “I’m just trying to catch some wind, and games are different than practice. But we have some battlers in this locker room that will help me out, so I can go back out and not feel like I missed a beat.”
Getting Mahfouz’s production back is huge for the Prowlers as he is tied with Skinner for second most points on the team with 74. Justin Alonzo leads the team with 89.
The first round series against Danville will also be a battle of offense vs. defense with the Prowlers scoring 262 goals on the year – the most in the FHL. To counter that, Danville gave up a league-low 185 goals on the year.
What could separate the two teams could be experience. When you combined the veteran leadership the Prowlers have with the offensive talent, Friday could be the start to a special postseason.
“There’s a lot of guys on this team that have won a championship before and know what it takes to get a ring,” Mahfouz said. “When you get that ring the next year, it’s a good feeling. From the older guys that know what that is like to the younger guys that want to get that feeling, I think that’s the biggest thing – the will to win.”