A three game sweep of the Evansville Thunderbolts has allowed the Atlanta Capitals to earn a share of first place in the hotly contested NA3HL South Division.
The series began Friday night and Atlanta established themselves right out of the gate. Jesse Brown scored in the first period, and Drew Kelly and Kyle Rimbach each added even strength goals in the second for a 3-0 lead. Arturas Laukaitis added a third period tally make it 4-0, but the ‘Bolts managed a pair of power play goals late in the period to close to within 4-2, but Andrew Cooley finished a power play chance in the final minute for the final 5-2 margin. Corey Boettcher stopped 31 of 33 shots for the win.
In the Saturday rematch, it was a dominating performance by Atlanta, propelling them to a 5-0 lead before Evansville got on the board. Alex Johanson started the scoring with a power play goal and Riley Hummitsch made it 2-0 after 1. Second period goals followed from Colin O’Connor, Ross Bartlett, and Andrew Cooley. Evansville recorded their first goal late in the second, but Alex Johanson responded :34 seconds later for a 6-1 Capitals lead after 2. Johanson completed the hat trick with a third period goal, and Jack Cleaver pumped one in as well, sandwiched by a pair of Evansville markers and Atlanta skated away with the 8-3 win. Aleksandr Zendejas stopped 17 of 20 shots, while Atlanta fired 57 shots at the ‘Bolts goalie.
Sunday’s game was a makeup game, originally scheduled to be played in Atlanta but bus troubles prevented the first of the two games, so while the game was played in Evansville’s Swonder Ice Arena, it was technically a home game for Atlanta. The Thunderbolts were playing with a short bench, dressing only 15 including the 2 goalies, having sent some players off to Michigan for the Top Prospects Tournament. Atlanta played short as well, for the same reason.The Capitals pummeled the ‘Bolts with 30 shots in the first period alone while allowing only 3, and five different goal scorers put the Capitals up for good. Riley Hummitsch, Jesse Brown, Kyle Rimbach, Alex Johanson, and Aleksi Hoivala each lit the lamp in that first period, and after Evansville squeezed in a power play goal midway through the second, Evan Camba scored, followed another Hummitsch goal and it was 7-1 after 2. Jesse Brown buried his second of the game in the third period and the final score was 8-2, completing a three game sweep for the Capitals. Corey Boettcher stopped 35 of 37 shots for his second win of the weekend.
Atlanta (29-8-2) sits in a first place tie with Point Mallard, as the teams have identical records. Just two points back are the Texas Jr. Brahmas. This weekend, the Capitals head to Nashville (26-10-3) to face the Jr. Predators. The last visit to Nashville resulted in a series split. The games will be available to view on FASTHockey.com.
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