WATERTOWN — In the first meeting between the two teams, Cory Anderson and his Danbury teammates always found a way to answer Watertown on Friday night.
Anderson scored a goal with 4 minutes, 7 seconds left in regulation to lift the Hat Tricks past the Wolves, 6-4, before 1,088 fans in a Federal Hockey League game at Watertown Municipal Arena.
Danbury (10-5), one of four expansion teams this season, didn’t appear as one against Watertown, as it used a disciplined approach to best the Wolves and extend its winning streak to eight games.
“We knew it was going to be tough, especially with it being first- versus second-place battle coming in here,” Anderson said. “Facing Watertown, we knew it was going to be a war and we expected a tight game. So this is a good win for us.”
Watertown (11-5) lost its season-high third straight game.
“Every time we would score, they seemed to have an answer for us,” said Watertown rookie forward Joe Deveny, who scored two goals. “So that’s frustrating, but we have to learn from this and move on.”
“It was a weird one,” Watertown coach Paul MacLean said. “It was back and forth and I don’t think we supported (goalie Jeremy) Pominville maybe enough. I think there were probably three (goals) that we ended up giving back to them. The guys didn’t quit, but at the end of the day, it’s tough to play catch-up.”
With the Wolves trailing 4-3 entering the third period, Jamie Lukas tied the game on a shorthanded goal with 12:05 left, finishing off a feed from the slot from Deric Boudreau.
“That shorthanded goal from Lukas was a real positive, but we didn’t follow it up,” MacLean said.
The goal came several minutes after Pominville denied Phil Bronner’s shorthanded breakaway bid.
But later with the game tied at 4-4, Anderson collected a pass from Nick DiNicola, moved in and beat Pominville for the go-ahead goal.
“DiNicola made a nice play, I was afraid I was going to lose it, I kind of bobbled it when I caught that puck,” Anderson said. “I kind of wanted to get a shot on net and luckily I was able to find that top right corner and it paid off.”
Bronner added an empty-net goal with 43.1 seconds left for Danbury, which never trailed. The Hat Tricks built four one-goal leads through two periods, only to have the Wolves tie the game each time, but Danbury responded with a go-ahead goal on each occasion.
“When you score a goal and then you give one right back and you lose, it’s a little deflating,” Watertown veteran winger Tyler Gjurich said.
Danbury also managed to get Watertown out of its game of playing a more disciplined style of hockey.
“We struggled defensively, which hurt,” Deveny said. “We’re a strong defensive team and we need to play that way to be successful, like we have been before.”
“Our work ethic, especially working hard down in their end, I think we won those battles and it paid off for us,” Anderson said.
Danbury, which outshot Watertown, 17-11 in the first period, led 1-0 on Kendall Bolen-Porter’s goal 13:04 into the game.
The Wolves drew even at 1-1 on Deveny’s power-play goal 4:53 into the second as he tapped in a David Powlowski drive.
After Danbury led 2-1 on Vladyslav Gavrik’s goal 1:58 later, Watertown tied it at 2-2 on Deveny’s second goal, this time set up by Cole Sonstebo 8:52 into the second.
The back-and-forth affair continued as Gavrik provided Danbury with a 3-2 edge with 8:28 left in the period.
After Cameron Dimmitt scored at 18:04 to forge a 3-3 tie, Danbury led again at 4-3 on Nicola Levesque’s goal with 10.8 seconds left in the period.
“We’ve got to have as much discipline in the D-zone as we do in the offensive zone and that didn’t happen tonight,” said Deveny, a former SUNY Canton player.
“We’re the kind of team where we’ve been winning games because we play defense,” MacLean said.
Watertown, which leads the Eastern Division, with Danbury in second place, will continue to get familiar with one other over the next week as they complete a home-and-home series at 7 tonight in Danbury, before squaring off in another home-and-home set next week.
The original Danbury franchise was a charter franchise in the league from the 2010-11 season through the 2015-16 campaign.
n NOTES: Boudreau extended his point streak to 16 games as he’s contributed at least a point in every game for the Wolves this season. ... Powlowski, a forward, was assigned to Watertown by the Macon Mayhem of the SPHL earlier in the week. Watertown also signed former Wolves goalie Christopher Marsillo this week, along with Sonstebo.