Icehawks soar into playoffs

Donald Lierman

Sports Editor

The Bloomington Prairie Thunder arrived in Port Huron Saturday headed for the Turner Cup playoffs. They left Sunday for the putting greens.

Port Huron Icehawks rookie goalie Rafaelle D’Orso faced 40 shots in a 4-1 victory, Sunday that allowed the Flint Generals to pass Bloomington for the last playoff spot.

“I actually prefer getting a lot of shots,” D’Orso said. “Keep in mind the defensemen blocked a lot of shots, too. The defense did a great job.”

Icehawks’ Derek Patrosso was impressed by the rookie’s performance.

“Those Quebec goalies may have difficulties speaking English but they sure know how to stop the puck,” Patrosso said. “They know how to train their goalies in Quebec.”

Port Huron coach Stan Drulia was impressed by D’Orso’s poise.

“The kid proved he could play tonight,” Drulia said. “Like those in the French goalie mold, he is quiet in his movement and shows great confidence in the net.”

The Icehawks’ Mike Kinnie scored his 26th goal of the year and teammate Brandon Naurato his 25th in the second period. Despite Bloomington slicing the lead to one 45 seconds into the third period, two third period Port Huron goals put the game on ice.

“We still have to play more consistently in the playoffs,” Patrosso said. “We cannot have those spurts where we let up as we did in this weekend’s series. The team has to take it up a notch and limit our turnovers in the playoffs if we are to be successful.”

The victory was the Icehawks’ eighth straight home victory and 11th of their last 12 matches at McMorran.

On the previous night, the Icehawks watched a 3-0 lead dissolve and were forced to come from behind to defeat the Prairie Thunder, 5-4, in overtime. Port Huron’s Daniel Tetrault scored 28 seconds into sudden death to notch the Icehawks’ 46th victory of the season.

“The first period was all us, the second period all them, and the third period was well played by both teams,” Icehawks’ Coach Stan Drulia said. “They plain out-competed us in the second period. We lost every battle, we were lazy, and that’s not a recipe for success at this time of the year.

“In this league, there’s too much offense, too many power plays and four on fours that can change the momentum quickly.”

With the two victories, the Icehawks ended their season in third place with a record of 47-25-0-4. Port Huron faces the Fort Wayne Komets in the opening round of the playoffs on Thursday.

Fort Wayne visits McMorran on Saturday, April 24, for the second game of the playoffs. Face off time is 7:30 p.m. For further Icehawks information, visit www.porthuronicehawks.com.

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