It’s all even.
The hated Danbury Whalers avenged their embarrassing, 9–2 loss in Game 1 of their semi-final playoffs against their Federal Hockey League rivals, the hometown New York Aviators, with a 5–2 thrashing.
The best-of-five series now heads to Danbury this weekend.
The Aviators fell behind 2–0 in the second period before John Goffredo cut the Danbury lead in half. But the Aviators never got closer, falling behind 5–1 before a late goal made the final score look closer than it was.
The game was a far cry from the night before, when the Aviators decimated the Danbury Whalers at Floyd Bennett Field’s Aviator Sports Complex.
The Aviators got on the board just 90 seconds into the game when Andrew Scampoli slapped home the first goal of the night.
“The puck went right into the slot for me and I wound into it as hard as I could,” Scampoli said. “Any form of butterflies I had going into this game were gone after that. It relaxed me.”
Scampoli’s goal set the tone for the first of the best-of-five playoff matchup: The 32-13-2 Aviators scored three more times in the first period, twice in the second and capped off the third with three more hits across the goal line.
Aviator season ticket holder Danny Murphy couldn’t contain his joy.
“You cannot beat this,” Murphy said. “We had a slow start this season, but now we’re on fire! I would much rather come here than an NHL game.”
The 24-18-5 Whalers managed to score in the first and third periods, but were unable to build any significant momentum, prompting ecstatic Aviator fans to chant “Warm the bus up!” at the visiting team.
The Whalers played more aggressively with each passing period, but the Aviators reciprocated in kind: By the end of the third period six Aviators and three Whalers did time in the penalty box for roughing. Whaler Lucas Schott and Goffredo each received five minutes in the penalty box for sparking a brawl at the opening of the third period.
Game 3 and 4 will be at Danbury on March 11 and March 12, at 7:05 pm and can be watched live on the FHL Sports Network at www.livesportsvideo.com. Game 5, if necessary, will be back at Aviator Sports [3159 Flatbush Ave. in Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park, (718) 758-7500] on March 13 at 5:05 pm. If the Aviators win, the finals will begin at Aviator Sports on March 18 at 7:05 pm. Tickets $12 ($8 for seniors and children under 14). For information visit www.newyorkaviators.com.