WATERTOWN — Ahmed Mahfouz experienced a first in his lengthy career Friday night, playing his first game with the Watertown Wolves.
A former longtime Thousand Islands and Watertown foe, Mahfouz fit right in his team debut, making an immediate impact with the surging Wolves.
A gritty and skilled veteran forward, Mahfouz scored a goal and assisted on another as the Wolves continued their red-hot play with a 4-2 triumph over the Carolina Thunderbirds in a Federal Prospects Hockey League game before 610 fans at Watertown Municipal Arena,
“For sure, it’s a little bit different being in that dressing room,” Mahfouz said. “But there’s good bunch of guys in that dressing room that made me feel welcome right off the get-go and that’s all you can ask as a new guy.”
Mahfouz’s new linemates Lane King and Justin MacDonald also contributed a goal and an assist each, and rookie goalie Breandan Colgan made 39 saves as league-leading Watertown (17-3) won its eighth consecutive game.
“So I just tried to pull on the same rope they’ve been pulling on all year and we were successful tonight,” Mahfouz said.
“Honestly, I love having him here,” King said of Mahfouz. “He’s one of those guys that you love to play with, you hate to play against, so that’s the ultimate compliment for a player. ... You know he has a little extra confidence, a little extra toughness, so a guy like that, we’re really happy to have him.”
Mahfouz, now is in his 12th pro season, has over the years gone toe to toe with the Thousand Islands and Watertown Privateers, and more recently against the Wolves signed a tryout agreement with Watertown this week.
“Things just ended up working out, me and Clarkie (Wolves coach Brent Clarke) stayed in touch and I’m just grateful to be here and have an opportunity to lace up the skates and play some more pro games,” said the 32-year-old Mahfouz, who was selected by the Wolves in the league’s dispersal draft in the offseason.
“It’s great, I (coached) him for three years,” Clarke said of Mahfouz, who is the league’s all-time scoring leader. “It’s great having him back and you miss having guys like that around that you’ve been around for several years. He brings a lot to the game and as soon as he gets back in game shape he’s going to be on top again and it’s great having him out there. He produced right away, too.”
Mahfouz’s career stretches back to the 2010-11 season when he played for the Akwesane Warriors when they clashed against the Privateers. He most recently played three seasons with the Elmira Enforcers, including two with Clarke as head coach, also serving as the Enforcers’ player coach during the 2021 winter season.
“That’s the good thing about hockey, your enemy can turn into your teammate in two days, with a trade or whatever,” King said. “So it’s nice to have him on our side, I played against him too many times and he’s done a lot of damage to us both penalty-box wise, goal wise, so I’m happy to have him on our side.”
After a scoreless first period, King scored a power-play goal 1:11 into the second on a one-timer in front, converting on a centering pass from MacDonald.
“I think that our team is starting to just really click, we have four lines that can really go, it doesn’t matter who’s out there,” King said. “We feel confident with our 16, 17 skaters every game and that’s the mind-set of a good team.”
Mahfouz followed with his goal, scoring 7:48 into the second period, with Maxime Guyon assisting for a 2-0 advantage. Mahfouz took advantage on a screen by Guyon.
“There were bits and parts where the legs just weren’t there for me, but these guys, they knew what my situation was and they helped me out,” Mahfouz said. “J-Mac is a great center to play with Lane is a great winger to play with, so it just ended up working out. We got the three points and that’s the most important thing.”
Later, Colgan denied John Buttitta’s shorthanded breakaway bid with 11 minutes left in the period.
Colgan, now 8-1 with Watertown, has now won seven straight starts.
The Wolves built a three-goal lead on Cole McKechney’s goal, with Larry Yellowknee assisting, with 2:05 left in the period.
MacDonald scored his team-leading 20th goal 1:20 into the third period, with King and Mahfouz assisting for a 4-0 lead.
“I thought it was a good game,” Clarke said. “We’re bringing in four new guys so we’re trying to get different lines together, so it’s probably going to take a few games to get the chemistry together. But we’re playing well.”
Carolina (11-9-2) avoided the shutout with Jacob Schnapp’s power-play goal 1:30 into the third period and Tommy Cardinal scored an empty-net goal for the final margin.
“They’ve done their job,” Mahfouz said of the Wolves. “I had Clarkie as a coach for a couple years there, so I know what to expect from him, he knows what to expect from me. I don’t want to be that guy to disturb the dressing room, so I just want to make sure that I’m trying to do my job and continue the winning ways in this dressing room. I’m just trying to help out.”
The Wolves and Thunderbirds will square off again in Watertown at 7:30 tonight and at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
n NOTES: Mahfouz came into the game with 849 career points in the league, including 282 goals and 567 assists. ... The Wolves won the previous two meetings with the Thunderbirds on Nov. 5-6 at Carolina. ... MacDonald, the league’s reigning player of the month for December, came into Friday leading the circuit in points (40) and assists (21). ... Wolves goalie Gregory Hussey was called up by Macon of the Southern Professional Hockey League on Monday.