WATERTOWN — Tanner Hildebrandt hopes he has finally found a home with a hockey team this season, this time with the Watertown Wolves.
A rookie forward, Hildebrandt has played with two previous teams in the Federal Prospects Hockey League this season, with the Watertown Wolves his latest stop.
Hildebrandt, who joined the Wolves’ team last week, will be in the lineup when Watertown hosts the Delaware Thunder at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday at Watertown Municipal Arena.
“I think it’s a great team, I think we have a great opportunity here,” Hildebrandt said after the Wolves’ game against Elmira on Sunday, his first with Watertown. “It would have been better to take two out of three (last) weekend, but I think moving forward we’ll be fine.”
Hildebrandt began the season with the Danville Dashers, where he scored eight goals and totaled 12 points in 11 games.
After he was traded to Elmira on Dec. 2, the 27-year-old Hildebrandt played only one game with the Enforcers as he underwent eye surgery, which was non-hockey related.
“I went back to my hometown to have eye surgery,” said Hildebrandt, who is a native of St. Catharines, Ontario. “Everything worked out, so now I’m back playing again.”
Then Hildebrandt was traded by Elmira to Watertown on Jan. 20, as part of a six-player deal between the two teams, which also sent then-Wolves leading scorer Tyler Gjurich to the Enforcers.
“I was there for about a week, so I didn’t get to know them too well,” Hildebrandt said of Elmira. “But now I’m excited about the opportunity here.”
Hildebrandt enjoyed skating for his new team Sunday, despite the 5-2 loss.
“It felt good to get back on the ice, but ultimately, it would have been nice to get the three points,” Hildebrandt said. “But hopefully we’ll bounce back and get the next one.”
Hildebrandt scored a goal in the third period in his Wolves’ debut, with Liam Little and Dallas Desjarlais assisting.
“Definitely, it was nice to get that one,” Hildebrandt said. “Hopefully I can contribute to the team.”
WOLVES LOOK FOR MOMENTUM
After winning last Friday’s game at Elmira, 3-1, Watertown dropped the next two games against the Enforcers, a 4-2 decision last Saturday at Elmira and last Sunday’s setback in Watertown.
The Wolves (22-19), who occupy third place in the Eastern Division behind second-place Elmira, have also lost four of their past five games.
Watertown has won seven of eight games against Delaware this season, including the past four meetings.
Delaware (8-28), which sits in last place in the division, has lost 11 straight games overall.
AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Wolves veteran Kyle Powell not only leads all defensemen in the league in goal-scoring (15), assists (48) and points (48), he also stands tied for first in the league overall in assists, as well as standing third in points.
Watertown rookie forward Jamie Lukas leads the league in shorthanded goals with three and is tied for the league lead in game-winning goals (six) with two others.
The two games against Delaware this week are part of a seven-game homestand for Watertown.
The Wolves will also host the league-leading Carolina Thunderbirds at 7:30 p.m. next Friday and Saturday before hosting the Port Huron Prowlers at 7:30 p.m. on March 6-7.
ELMIRA 5, WATERTOWN 2
Rookie goalie Joseph Young made a career-high 59 saves to back Elmira to a 5-2 triumph over Watertown in Sunday’s FPHL 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.
Young stole the show on Sunday 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.
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.
There are five games left between the two teams in the regular-season series, which Elmira leads 6-4.