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Whalers come back to nip Privateers, 4-3

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Some of the faces may have changed, but the rivalry between Danbury and Watertown continues to heat up.

In the latest encounter, the Privateers rallied to take their first lead of the game only to see the advantage and potential win slip away as the Whalers found a way to steal one on the road.

Cody Ayers scored a pair of goals, including the tying tally on the power play, and Tim Richter followed with the game-winner in the final minute of regulation as Danbury rallied past Watertown, 4-3, on Friday night at Watertown Municipal Arena.

“The penalties we took were stupid,” Watertown coach Brad Zangs said. “And that’s what caused us to lose. They tied it up and they won with less than a minute left.”

Watertown had scored two successive goals to seemingly take control as, after Dustin Skinner generated the tying goal with 1 minute, 59 seconds left in the second period, Dane Erickson followed with the go-ahead goal for a 3-2 lead 5:11 into the third period.

Despite the Privateers being heavily outshot, they appeared poised to steal a game in their own building, but then got into penalty trouble.

“We played a pretty decent game, we worked hard all game,” Privateers team captain Kris McCarthy said. “And then they got a quick one there, so this is tough to swallow. You’ve got to play 60 minutes in this game.”

With the Whalers on a two-man advantage, Steve Brown won the faceoff and sent the puck to Ayers, who tallied the tying goal at 12:22.

“This is bull,” Zangs said. “You don’t give up a short-sided goal on the power play, which we did, which is unacceptable. And you don’t isolate on just one guy and allow them to score the game-winning goal. ... We have not gotten beat where we can say ‘they were just better than us.’ Our losses have been when we’ve given the other team the win.”

Then with the game nearly headed to overtime, Richter put the Whalers up 4-3 from in close with 28.4 seconds left in regulation.

Goalie Mike Brown stopped 27 of 30 shots for Danbury (4-2), which swept Watertown in three games in a first-round playoff series last spring.

“I think we played really solid,” Danbury coach Phil Esposito said. “I think we outplayed them for most of the game and we had a couple letdowns. But I like the way we battled back and we did it against a real good goalie in Matt Anthony.”

Anthony made 44 saves on 48 shots for the Privateers (2-4), who had won their previous two games.

Watertown began its comeback bid as Skinner knocked a rebound past Brown at 18:01 of the middle period.

Erickson followed with the go-ahead goal as, after Jeff Dill cranked a shot off the right goal post that fell behind Brown, Erickson swept the puck in for a 3-2 lead with 14:49 left in regulation.

The Whalers weren’t done and outshot the Privateers 48-30 overall, including 17-8 in the third period.

“I thought we had it there in the third,” Erickson said. “We were playing well for most of the period and they got that goal. It was just unfortunate the way it happened.”

Both teams struck for a goal within the first 3 1/2 minutes with each scoring on its first shot on goal.

After the Privateers’ Andrew Harrison scored 2:08 elapsed, Scott Morongell followed with a goal for the Whalers 40 seconds later.

Ayers provided Danbury with a 2-1 lead, one-timing a feed from Robert Vanwynsberghe at 10:44 of the first.

“The first game we played Danbury we lost 4-0,” Zangs said. “And I thought we outplayed them for most of this game. When we move our feet no one can stay with us. We had our chances at the end and we hit two pipes — what does that say about our character? We’ve got a lot of character kids on this team who don’t roll over and die. We’ve got to come out (tonight) against Danville and get it done.”

Tonight’s game begins at 7:35.




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