WATERTOWN — Score this round of the growing Watertown-Elmira rivalry to the Enforcers, compliments of goalie Joseph Young.
The rookie made a career-high 59 saves to back Elmira to a 5-2 triumph over Watertown in Sunday’s Federal Prospects Hockey League matinee before 731 fans at Watertown Municipal Arena.
“It felt great, obviously I’m happy with the two wins I was able to get this weekend,” Young said. “Anytime you get six points, that’s a good weekend. I’m really excited that I was able to help my team win, I thought we put in a good team effort.”
The Enforcers finished with the upper hand on the weekend, winning the last two games of a three-game set with the Wolves after Watertown won 3-1 at Elmira on Friday night. “This is like a New York rivalry,” said Young, who played in parts of the past three seasons with Division I Union College. “Every time you come into this game, you know it’s going to be intense.”
Young, playing in place of regular starting goalie Troy Passingham, who was out with an illness, stopped 26 of 28 shots faced in the Enforcers’ 4-2 win Saturday.
“A little tired, but I was excited,” Young said of his effort Sunday. “It’s a good challenge and I was happy that I was kind of able to steal one for the team.”
Young stole the show as they were outshot, 61-35, including 40-28 over the first two periods.
“For sure, tonight we worked really hard and had a lot of good scoring chances,” Wolves forward Deric Boudreau said. “Younger, he had another great game tonight.”
“Joe Young played outstanding for them, he was the difference,” Watertown coach Paul MacLean said.
Hudson Michealis scored a pair of goals, including the game’s first tally, to pace the Enforcers, who scored the game’s first four goals.
“We can’t get down our ourselves too much,” Boudreau said. “I think we played a solid game, but we had maybe two breakdowns and that led (the puck) into the back of our net and that cost us.”
Tanner Hildebrandt, making his Wolves debut, and Dominik Bogdziul each scored a goal for Watertown, with both goals coming in the third period.
After the Enforcers led 1-0 on Michealis’ rebound goal 7:49 elapsed, they struck for two goals in nearly two minutes in the second period to build a 3-0 lead.
Andrew Harrison scored on a tip-in 7:39 into the second period and Glen Patterson finished off a feed from Trent Durocher at 9:14 to lead 3-1, which chased Wolves rookie goalie Mike Cosentino.
Cosentino, who allowed the three goals on 22 shots, was relieved by Jeremy Pominville.
After Zach Pease provided Elmira with a 4-1 lead 5:37 into the third period, Hildebrandt followed with a goal 43 seconds later for Watertown.
Bogdziul followed with his goal at 10:27, just two seconds after a Wolves’ power play expired to draw Watertown within 4-2.
Michealis added an empty-net goal with 2:19 left in regulation.
“The mood is, I think we’re a little upset that we didn’t score more,” MacLean said. “I honestly can’t tell our guys they played bad, based on the shots, we had 60-some shots. But we know we can play better.”
The Wolves also squandered a chance to make up ground in the race for playoff positioning in the league’s Eastern Division.
Second-place Elmira (24-16) now leads third-place Watertown (22-19) by seven points in the division, 73-66, and in points percentage (.608 to .537), with the latter determining the standings.
“It’s only one weekend, we’ve got to move forward,” Boudreau said. “The guys are tired after a three-and-three, but we put it all there and have to move on.”
There are five games left between the two teams in the regular-season series, which Elmira leads 6-4.
“Watertown is right behind us in the standings, so we’re trying to get a little bit of a separation and trying to catch the guys in front of us, so this was a really good game,” Young added.
Watertown will continue its seven-game homestand when it hosts the Delaware Thunder at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“There’s never a dull moment and there’s always something you can work on,” MacLean said. “So we’ve got a day off (Monday) and then we’re back to work. And then we have Delaware and you can never take Delaware lightly.”
n NOTES: Hildebrandt was one of five players acquired by the Wolves in a trade with the Enforcers on Jan. 20 in which Tyler Gjurich was dealt to Elmira. Gjurich recorded a pair of assists Sunday. ... Cosentino had won two of his previous three starts with the Wolves. ... Elmira veteran player Ahmed Mahfouz didn’t play after he was injured Saturday. ... The Wolves and Enforcers will next square off March 12 in Elmira.