A five-goal lead was suddenly two, 1000 Islands was headed to the power play, the Privateers' shot total was nearing 50 and Williamsport Outlaws coach Chris Firriolo stood behind the bench with flashbacks racing through his mind.
The Outlaws surrendered several two-goal leads to the Privateers last Saturday night - what would be considered a minor collapse compared to handing over a five-goal advantage - and were teetering again on Thursday night on home ice at Airmen Pond at Bowman Field.
This 1000 Islands' comeback bid, however, barely moved the see-saw off the ground as Williamsport killed a power play with under eight minutes remaining in the final period and closed out a 5-2 victory over the Privateers on the front side of an important weekend.
"I was really confident, but then again I started getting flashbacks of last Saturday night," said Firriolo. "We were up 2-0, 4-2 and 6-4 and we kind of blew the game and lost in overtime."
Williamsport, which sits in second place in the FHL standings behind Dayton, travels to Ohio tonight for back-to-back games against the first-place Demonz. Wins there and a victory at Danville on Sunday could leave the Outlaws in first place come Monday morning.
Backup goaltender Mike DiLorenzo will start again tonight against Dayton in place of starter Chris Whitley who is still hampered by a hamstring injury. DiLorenzo, who is expected to play all three games this weekend, replaced Whitley last week against Danbury before allowing seven goals during the 1000 Islands comeback victory on Saturday night. He looked more confident last night against the Privateers, stopping 48 of 50 shots, including 22 in the first period.
"We threw away a game last Saturday night we should have won against these guys," said Firriolo. "He let up seven goals and I think we were all disappointed and he was disappointed in himself, but being the true competitor he is, he came back tonight and gave us a great performance."
"It feels great, it's my first one of the year," said DiLorenzo, who was 0-2-2 in his four previous starts. "I've been struggling a little bit personally with my play and I didn't have the start to the season that I wanted to. It just feels good to get the first win and now I can get a little relieved and get back to doing my job."
While DiLorenzo was gaining confidence with each stop during the first 20 minutes, his offense continued to pile up goals this season. Trevor Karasiewicz started the barrage with a turnaround shot from the left face-off circle that beat Privateers' goaltender Matt Anthony. It was the fifth goal of the season for Karasiewicz. Rob Sich made it 2-0 with a power-play goal. Sich scored from nearly the same spot on the ice as Karasiewicz after receiving a feed from Brett Needham.
"Getting a lead was huge for me confidence-wise," said DiLorenzo. "It took the pressure off me and let's me sit back and relax a little bit."
The Outlaws, who have scored 18 goals in their past three games, posted just 12 shots in the first period compared to 22 for the visitors, but held a two-goal advantage.
Williamsport tightened defensively in the second period and allowed just 13 Privateers' shots. Meanwhile, the offense continued to click. Matt Smyth made it 3-0 just under six minutes into the period and Sich added a second power-play goal - his 28th goal of the season in 24 games - to make it 4-0.
In the third period, Tim Recio scored his first of the season before the Privateers scored back-to-back goals and closed to 5-2 with still 12:27 remaining.
Williamsport stood up to the 1000 Islands' charge and extended its lead over the third-place Privateers to seven points. Dayton, which has played five less games than Williamsport, also won last night and is seven points ahead of the Outlaws entering this pivotal weekend.
The Outlaws will also be without Smyth for the next three games after he earned a call-up with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL. Orlando is in the Northeast this weekend visiting Elmira, Reading and Trenton on consecutive nights. Firriolo said he expects Smyth to rejoin the Outlaws on Monday.