Crowning achievement

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COLUMBUS, Ga. — The Watertown Wolves got off to quick start in the opening game of the Federal Prospects Hockey League final Friday night, but ultimately couldn’t finish off the Columbus River Dragons.

The Wolves now face a must-win scenario when they host the second game of the best-of-three series Sunday.

M.J. Graham scored the deciding goal in the third period and the River Dragons held off the Wolves, 3-2, before a crowd of 4,507 at the Columbus Civic Center.

Watertown will host Columbus at 7 p.m. Sunday at Watertown Municipal Arena. With a win, the River Dragons can finish off the Wolves and win the league title. A third game, if necessary, will be played at 6:30 p.m. Monday, also in Watertown.

The Wolves seized the initiative early on as Justin MacDonald scored 24 seconds into the game, with Lane King and Jimmy Lodge assisting.

But Columbus responded by generating three consecutive goals to take command.

First, Jagger Williamson scored a goal 7 minutes, 52 seconds into the second period, with Josh Pietrantonio assisting.

The River Dragons took the lead on Alex Storjohann’s goal with 6:08 left in the period, which was set up by Graham.

Graham then provided Columbus with a 3-1 lead on his goal 6:28 into the third period, with Ian White assisting.

MacDonald scored his second goal of the night with 5:35 left in regulation, with Lodge setting it up.

Later, the Wolves were unable to tie the score after pulling goalie Adam Beukeboom with 1:39 remaining in the game and during a two-man advantage when Columbus was assessed a penalty with 54 seconds left.

Goalie Bailey McBurnie stopped 32 of 34 shots faced for the River Dragons.

Beukeboom, a rookie who won twice in the semifinals to secure the series win, finished with 20 saves.

Watertown is in quest of its third league championship as it won titles in 2014-15, which was their first season in the league, and in the 2017-18 season. The Wolves are also the only team in the league with multiple league titles, while Columbus is bidding for its first league title.

The Wolves swept their semifinal series last week against the Carolina Thunderbirds to reach the league final for the third time in franchise history.

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