You’ll have to wait a few more days for the Federal Hockey League playoffs to start.
However, if you were at McMorran Arena on Sunday to catch the Port Huron Prowlers face the Danville Dashers, you already got a dose of what the postseason atmosphere will be like.
The scenario was simple – if the Prowlers won their season finale in regulation, they earn home ice advantage in the first round against Danville. Any other result would’ve given the home ice to Danville in the upcoming weekend’s best of three series.
With their home crowd behind them and Andy DiCristofaro playing strong in front of the net, the Prowlers locked up home ice with a 4-1 win. That will have the Prowlers traveling to Danville for game one of the series on Friday, then coming back home for the final two games on Saturday and Sunday, if needed.
“It’s huge,” Prowlers head coach Trevor Karasiewicz said. “You can see our record … I think we are 50-50 on the road, so it’s huge for the boys.”
On the other end of the bracket, the No. 1-seeded Danbury Titans will take on No. 4-seeded Dayton Demolition.
Four different Prowlers got in on the scoring fun, starting with Dustin Skinner and Matt Beer scoring in the tail end of the first period. Matt Fuller and Justin Alonzo also picked up goals in the second period to make it 4-0 before Danville’s Ray Tremblay scored at the end of the period.
To boot, DiCristofaro had 26 saves on the afternoon to secure the win.
“Every game he’s standing on his head,” Skinner said. “He’s a great goalie … hopefully he can help us win a championship.”
The win was big for the postseason, but it was also an impressive response to Saturday’s 8-7 barn-burner loss against the Dayton Demolition.
“We get in trouble when we just try to outscore the other team and don’t play our game,” DiCristofaro said. “When we just run-and-gun that doesn’t work out well for us. So today, we had a lot more control.”
It felt like the Prowlers controlled the game from the start, highlighted by Skinner’s goal off an assist by Jared Hicks with 3:23 left in the first period. It was also Skinner’s fifth point in the three-game weekend.
Less than two minutes later, Beer ripped his shot into the top shelf to give the Prowlers a 2-0 lead heading into the first break.
The second period started off sluggish for Port Huron’s offense as they didn’t get a shot on net until Ahmed Mahfouz pinged the crossbar with less than nine minutes remaining. Not long after, Fuller scored his goal, followed with Port Huron’s Ludlow Harris getting tripped by Danville goalie Dalton McGrath.
It could’ve gotten out of hand, but the Prowlers remained poised amid the scuffle.
“When something happens to one of your teammates and all five guys are right there to help, that’s a family right there,” Mahfouz said.
Alonzo scored the final Prowlers goal when he cleaned up a rebound with 3:18 to go in the period, a minute and a half before Danville broke the seal with their lone goal.
The third period saw no goals, and Port Huron made it tough to get opportunities as it allowed just five shots on net that period.
Now with the regular season officially in the books, it’s time for the Prowlers and the community to brace for playoffs.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Skinner said. “Everyone is so supportive around the community too. The fan base here has been great.
“So just get ready to playoffs.”