Elmira, New York

Friday, October 19, 2007

With the Binghamton Senators out of town, and nothing else to really do on a Friday night at home, Jill and I decided to drive an hour west to watch the inaugural ECHL game in Elmira. This would be our first trip to watch professional hockey at the First Arena, although we had been there in the past to watch Michael play a travel game. A small 'barn' compared to some of the other rinks we've been in, but a good venue to watch a game none the less. Plus, with Elmira moving up from the UHL to the ECHL, they finally put better and more competitive hockey in this building. After the game, we went to The Green Derby for dinner before heading home.

Scott May scored twice and Frank Littlejohn notched two assists to lead the Elmira Jackals to a 4-2 win over the Wheeling Nailers in the club’s ECHL debut Friday night at First Arena.

The crowd of 3,925 celebrated the first goal of a new era when Benoit Doucet netted his first of the year 5:07 into the contest on feeds from Littlejohn and Pierre-Luc Faubert.

Faubert was on the receiving end of a stretch pass as he left the penalty box and created a three-on-two break. Slipping the puck to Littlejohn, the Jackals captain found a breaking Doucet who buried the puck past Martin Houle.

Houle was perhaps the story of the first period as he turned aside 19 of 21 Elmira shots on goal. Looking a bit shaky early on, he came up with a couple of dazzling stops, including a glove hand snag on May as the Jackals threatened to blow this one open early.

As Houle did his thing, the Nailers managed just six shots in the opening stanza, but kept it close when Ned Havern converted at 11:09 to slice the lead in half at 2-1.

Newcomer Tomas Kudelka made an immediate impression when his drive from the high slot eluded Houle just 2:35 into the second for a Jackals’ power play goal and a 3-1 advantage.

Kudelka’s goal would stand up as the game-winner, although it looked as if the Jackals would cruise to victory with neither team finding the back of the net in the opening 18 minutes of the final period.

That was before a two-on-one developed with Sean Collins crossing a pass to Kevin Croxton in the right circle with 1:55 remaining in regulation. Croxton rammed a drive home under the crossbar to tighten things up at 3-2.

May regained the home team’s two-goal advantage and secured the win in the process when he deposited an empty net strike from center ice with 57 seconds left in the game.

It got chippy after that with a pair of bouts to close out the night with Littlejohn bringing the fans to their feet with his decision over Paul Bissonnette while Trevor Hendrikx and 6’9” Lance Manson dueling to a draw.

The Jackals win their season opener and ECHL debut. They now look ahead to tomorrow night in Trenton for the first road game of the regular season against the Devils. Game time from Sovereign Bank Arena is 7 p.m. with radio coverage kicking off with the Hill Top Inn Countdown to Faceoff on MAGIC FM (92.7/97.7) beginning at 6:30.

The Jackals are next on home ice next Friday against the Johnstown Chiefs at 7:35 p.m. at First Arena. Good seats are still available and on sale now. Purchase your tickets now by phone at 722-3711, on-line at www.ticketmaster.com, or in person at the First Arena box office (Gray Street) open Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Total Mileage: 126 Miles

Total Miles Travelled:
101,593 Miles!

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Page Last Updated: November 1, 2007