Jerome Bechard, head coach of the Columbus River Dragons, anticipated a win Friday.
The River Dragons, days prior, beat Elmira 4-3 in extra time, on the street, to maneuver inside one win of the Ignite Cup. They led 2-0 within the championship collection, scored eight objectives within the first two video games and had been seeking to clinch the title at residence, in entrance of a restricted capability crowd on the Columbus Civic Heart.
However Bechard didn’t count on it to be this straightforward.
The River Dragons cruised to an 8-1 blowout win over the Enforcers Friday evening to win the crew’s first Ignite Cup — and convey a hockey championship to the Chattahoochee Valley for the primary time because the Cottonmouths did practically a decade in the past.
“It’s been since 11-12, so it’s been some time,” Bechard advised reporters on the ice because the crew celebrated. “It looks as if each eight years we win one thing, so hopefully subsequent yr, it’ll be somewhat bit faster than eight years.”
Basic Supervisor Scott Model and Proprietor Jeff Croop’s desires of an thrilling, fast-paced, high-scoring hockey crew got here true. As a result of this was a dominant outing by a River Dragons crew in simply its second yr of existence.
Bechard preaches fast-paced, high-scoring hockey, simply as he did as coach of the Cottonmouths. He known as it “Columbus-style hockey” in an August 2019 interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.
Columbus-style hockey led to a goals-per-game common of over 5 objectives within the playoffs. It led to a plus-15 aim differential on the season.
Pair that with a robust protection (goaltender Jared Rutledge had 27 saves on the evening) and that’s a recipe for achievement.
They scored by means of Mac Jansen barely two minutes into the opening interval. They led 3-0 on the first intermission and 5-0 on the second. Elmira’s one aim sport effectively after the sport was already determined, late within the third interval.
“We knew if we got here out arduous the primary 5 (minutes), they’d in all probability fall out somewhat bit,” River Dragons ahead Josh Pietrantonio stated. “Getting back from 2-0 down is hard in a best-of-five collection. … I used to be simply attempting to maintain the boys targeted, ‘trigger they had been already beginning to get into social gathering mode.”
A whirlwind yr ends in glory
The River Dragons had six residence video games, one-quarter of their residence schedule, canceled when the league suspended operations March 13, 2020 resulting from COVID-19.
Attendance on the Civic Heart through the crew’s inaugural season was trending upwards on the time.
“I may deceive you and say the whole lot was effective,” Model advised the Ledger-Enquirer in Sept. 2020. “We didn’t break even. We misplaced important cash due to it. Now, we’re lucky sufficient that we have now an proprietor who’s passionate concerning the metropolis and about hockey.”
The crew trudged on. The River Dragons, in coordination with the Columbus metropolis authorities, carried out a restricted capability for the 2021 season. Followers unfold out throughout the sector in seating pods, and masks had been required always for spectators.
The masked-up followers had been handled to a present Friday evening, and lots of stayed lengthy after the ultimate horn sounded to look at the celebrations.
“You overcome feelings whenever you win it, immediately,” Model advised the Ledger-Enquirer Friday evening. “The truth that you gained, and also you gained it at residence, you possibly can’t ask for a greater one than that. It wasn’t a detailed sport, however till the horn sounds, it’s by no means over, so it feels nice.”