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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Eck-ceptional! Eckler's Overtime Winner gives Warriors Weekend Sweep

By: Joey Battaino

Jamestown, NY- After Friday night's thrilling 3-2 victory in the final seconds of the third period, the Michigan Warriors had a chance to build their lead on fifth place Jamestown by 11 points with a victory on March, 3rd versus the Ironmen.

This weekend contained some of the best hockey we have seen the Warriors play in two months. They looked quick, they were winning puck battles, the goaltending was sparkling, and they got goals for role players that aren't used to scoring too much.

Saturday was get away day in Jamestown. The last game of a two-game road trip. You could tell that Moe Mantha was proud of his team for the effort from Friday night, but didn't want to get to high on the highs. "I'm hoping that our your club can feed off of that energy (from last night) and gain some confidence" said the Warriors second year head coach. " The message to the guys tonight will be, hey, we did something good, now lets go build off of that"

The Warriors would build off of that by striking first on the scoreboard and for the second night in a row, it was James Kline who lit the lamp first for the Warriors. His ninth goal of the season came after he let a howitzer go from the top of the left circle that hit the crossbar. Kline tracked down his own rebound behind the goal and banked it in off the goaltender of Jamestown, Joey Ballmer. Just like Friday night, it was 1-0 Warriors after one period.

The second started much like the first. The Warriors winning battles and getting great chances. Finally, on a turnover at the Jamestown blue line, Joey Ferriss went in with Brad Pizzey on a two on none. Ferriss slid it over to Pizzey and hit put the puck in the gaping net. Pizzey was an assist away from the "Gordie Howe Hat trick" (Goal, Fight, Assist) after his second period tussle with Jeff MacFarland. It was 2-0 Warriors after two periods.

In the third, it felt as if Jamestown gave the Warriors their best shot. NAHL veteran Jonathon Smith finally got the Ironmen on the board at the 8:01 mark of the third. Then 3:42 later, Ryan Urso tied the game on re-direction on a point shot from Bryan Watt. It was 2-2 and the Ironmen had all the momentum. Brach Tiller made some great stops in the third to get the game to overtime.

In the extra session, the Warriors looked like the fresher team. They had worn down the Jamestown defense who had shortened their bench in the third and overtime, only playing four defenseman. Finally, after a drop pass from Martin Gruse, Chris Eckler circled and snapped a wrister just under the bar on the blocker side of Ballmer giving the Warriors another dramatic 3-2 victory in Jamestown.

The Warriors will host the Traverse City North Stars Wednesday night at Perani Arena. Puck drop is at 7:30PM. You can hear the game live on Supertalk 1570AM and supertalk1570.com

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