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Foster steps in for Thousand Islands Privateers

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After the Thousand Island Privateers lost their top scorer earlier in the week, a relative newcomer came forward as the team delivered a “character win” in his absence Friday night.

Rookie forward William Foster scored the game-winning goal in the third period to lift Thousand Islands to a 4-3 victory over the Danbury Whalers in a physical Federal Hockey League game before a crowd of 1,159 at Watertown Municipal Arena.

“This is huge” Foster said of the victory. “We lost our leading point guy, but we were able to step up and get it done against a hard-nosed team like Danbury.”

The game was the first for the Privateers after leading scorer Chris Greene, a Watertown native who served as an assistant coach/player, was called up earlier in the week by the Denver Cutthroats of the Central Hockey League.

Foster made the most of his opportunity against Danbury as with the scored tied at three, he took a pass from Peter Campbell, moved in and slid the puck past goalie Mike Brown’s pads 9 minutes, 50 seconds into the third period for the deciding goal.

“This feels really good, I’ve kind of been snakebit,” said Foster, who played in just his sixth game with Thousand Islands. “I’ve been playing with some top line guys, but just haven’t been able to produce. Getting the game-winner feels awesome.”

After Foster was cut by the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League last month, he signed with Thousand Islands on Nov. 21.

“For him to get those two points, especially being with a new team is huge,” Thousand Islands coach Paul Kelly said of Foster, who notched his first point with the team with an assist in the first period,

“Obviously that came at a real important time for us and we’ve stressing all week in practice to just take it to the net and he did.”

Goalie Matt Anthony made 37 saves, including 26 over the last two periods to record the win for the Privateers (10-7).

“I thought this was one of the better games we’ve played as a team this year,” Kelly said.

Campbell finished with three points, including a goal, as he and Adam McAllister scored in the first period to stake Thousand Islands to a 2-0 lead.

“We gave up a couple leads there and they got a lucky bounce,” forward Brent Tamane said. “But we came back and won the third period and got that goal from Foster. This is a good character win for the boys.”

After Gentry Zollars scored later in the period for Danbury, the Whalers drew even on Kamil Vavra’s power-play goal 6:46 into the second.

The Privateers retook the lead 20 seconds later on Tamane’s goal, but Zollars followed with the tying goal at 12:55 to draw even at 3-3 as he collected in a puck, which had deflected off a Thousand Islands’ defenseman’s glove.

“Everything seemed to be going against us then,” Kelly said. “They came out and battled, stuck with it and we ended up with the win. ... I commend my guys for not giving up.”

Brown finished with 29 saves for Danbury (6-7).

“We out played them for a good part of the game,” Danbury coach Phil Esposito said. “We’ve been playing this way the last couple games where we’re right there and playing well, but we make a mistake and the puck ends up in our net.”

The Privateers will again host the Whalers at 7:35 tonight to complete the two-game set.

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