As a storm literally surrounded Airmen Pond Friday night, the Williamsport Outlaws faced plenty of figurative storms, as well.
On the ice, the Outlaws, who parted ways with leading scorer Rob Sich early Thursday morning, looked to reverse their current fortunes, which saw them drop three consecutive games before Thursday's game was suspended.
Off the ice, the Outlaws' front office heard the team's fate regarding their home ice on Thursday as a judge decided if Rink Specialist, the company responsible for fitting Bowman Field with an ice rink, would be allowed to remove the rink.
With all the questions surrounding the franchise, getting back on the ice and performing for the Williamsport fans acted as the perfect way to escape and get back on track. The Outlaws received three goals from Matt Smyth and two from new addition Anthony Battaglia as they defeated New York, 9-1.
The good thing for the Outlaws, though, was both storms held off as the ruling yesterday allowed them to retain their ice for the remainder of the season. And just to throw in an extra treat, the storm that forced an early stop to Thursday's game held off throughout Friday's game.
"This is the first week we've had practices with Battaglia," Smyth said. "It's good for us to get going against a team like this. We can get those goals and build confidence."
The Outlaws offense once again excelled in the first period.
After Williamsport (13-1-3-11) peppered New York's goalie throughout the opening five minutes, it finally broke through when Matthew Puntureri cut in front of the net and sent a slap shot past Alex Wyse. Jeff Winchester was credited for the assist.
The offense posted a season-high 22 shots on goal throughout the first 20 minutes.
And, in need of some positive play after three consecutive losses, Trevor Karasiewicz extended his points lead with a nifty pass to Smyth, who banged home the Outlaws second goal. Tyler Matheson then added the team's third moments later when he controlled a Martin Moucha pass and sent it through Wyse's legs. Battaglia rounded out the first-period scoring with a late wrist shot past Wyse for a 4-0 Williamsport advantage.
"You have to play smart and limit mistakes," Smyth said. "The less mistakes you make the less chances they will have."
Smyth continued to pace the Outlaws in the second period, scoring two more goals for the team's fourth hat trick of the year. Smyth punched in both of his goals after Battaglia opened the period with his second goal of the night. Karasiewicz, who leads the FHL with 46 points and 40 assists, assisted on both of Smyth's second-period tallies. And in an effort to continue his league-leading totals, Karasiewicz scored after Smyth completed his hat trick and Moucha added the team's final goal for a 9-0 lead at the second intermission.
"My main thing tonight was getting guys back out there and staying healthy," Williamsport coach Chris Firriolo said. "We wanted to go out and play the game hard and keep it simple."
Firriolo called the dogs off in the third period and played the clock as New York (3-1-1-13) attempted to get back into the game.
Angelo Asaro scored the Bluefins' lone goal midway through the period. But, facing a team that only mustered 13 shots in three periods, the Outlaws maintained control and cruised to their 13th win of the season.
"In all fairness, the team we played tonight were a bunch of guys trying to come together," Firriolo said. "They were very similar to us at the beginning of the season.
"I tip my hat to New York. They are a bunch of guys that have come together for the first time and they'll get better. They worked hard tonight."