With little to no visibility from the lower level seats, the Williamsport Outlaws faced their first weather-related complications of the season.
The light rain throughout the day kept the glass lining the rink fogged throughout the night. It was like trying to look through a frosty beer mug.
After dropping a contest against Danville last Saturday, the Outlaws have been anxious to get back on the ice with the Dashers. And, despite the less-than-ideal viewing options for fans, Williamsport played like a team trying to redeem a previous loss.
The Williamsport Outlaws’ Tyler Matheson, black jersey, fights with Danville’s Chris Affinati during Friday night’s game at Airmen Pond at Bowman Field. View more photos at cu.sungazette.com.
The conditions were reminiscent of the 1988 "Fog Bowl" between the Eagles and Bears played in a thick layer of fog. The conditions weren't ideal, but it did little to damper the Outlaws' spirits.
Kevin Cooper scored twice in the opening period and Brett Needham added his third since joining the Outlaws in a 9-4 win Friday night at Airmen Pond at Bowman Field.
"We didn't have any issues with that," Cooper said of the fog. "It's always a new feeling when you're on the ice and something like that happens. We just play with what happens and just go forward with it."
As the game progressed the conditions got worse. In the second period, the fogged glass became a secondary issue as a thick layer of actual fog rolled in.
"It was kind of hard to see," Outlaws coach Chris Firriolo said of his view from the bench. "For me it was kind of hard in the corners. I could see, but it wasn't crystal clear. It was just kind of a rare moment, but once it cleared it was better. I felt bad for the fans."
Despite the visibility issues, the Dashers and Outlaws didn't seem affected by it. Even though it was extremely difficult to follow after the fog rolled over the ice, it didn't stop Ryan Stern from cutting into the lead the Outlaws built through the first period with Danville's first goal.
Stern, from just beyond the blue-line, sent a rocket into the net for his first goal of the season against Williamsport.
The goal offered Danville a slim chance at getting back into the game. But, once it appeared Danville was getting its offense into rhythm, Chris Leveille broke through for his first goal of the night to put Williamsport back in front, 5-1.
Danville, though, responded with two unanswered goals to close out the second period and cut Williamsport's lead to 5-3 with 20 minutes to play.
"We kept a good, positive attitude going into the third," Cooper said.
Last Saturday shaped up as the perfect trap game after Williamsport snatched an overtime victory from Danbury the previous night. And the surprising 3-1 loss against the Dashers which followed has been brought up by most players since.
Williamsport's chance at redemption started exactly how it wanted. The recently added Needham continued to make an impact as he slid one of the team's first shots through for a one-goal lead. Nathan Oke and Rob Sich helped Needham get into position with two quick passes to get behind the defense.
"It was a good first period, but it was a little sloppy," Firriolo said. "Mentally it's just all about preparation."
After the go-ahead tally, Cooper, another recent addition, added the first of two first-period goals when he took a Trevor Karasiewicz pass and put it through for a two-goal lead. Winchester then assisted on Cooper's second scoring effort.
"I heard the guys talking about the last game and they wanted to come back strong against them," Cooper said. "We wanted to show them what we're made of and how hard we can play as a team. It's always important to get off to a good start."
Danville didn't take kindly to all the scoring. Midway through the period, the Dashers' Chris Affinati and Tyler Matheson moved to center ice for a fan-pleasing brawl. Matheson threw Affinati to the ice, but both players bounced back up and continued to punch each other. Eventually Matheson gained the upper hand and tossed Affinati to the ice, sending the hometown crowd to its feet.
The Outlaws continued to roll, opening the second period with a goal. Cooper notched his third of the contest when he beat Danville's keeper to his glove side for a 4-1 Williamsport lead.
Moments after Cooper tallied his third goal to complete the hat trick, Jamie Zaleski, the unquestioned fan favorite of the Outlaws, got into a scrap with David Lun.
The Outlaws, after a shaky finish to the second period, exceeded their season high for goals when they opened the third with three consecutive goals to push their total to nine on the night. Matt Smyth, whose point streak recently came to an end at seven games, added two assists and a goal in the third period.