WATERTOWN — With teams battling for playoff positioning in the stretch drive of the season, the Watertown Wolves may very well look back at this loss as the one that got away.
The Wolves stormed back from a three-goal deficit to tie the game in the third period, only to fall short in a 6-4 defeat to the Port Huron Prowlers on Friday night in a Federal Prospects Hockey League game before a crowd of 705 at Watertown Municipal Arena.
Bryan Parsons scored a pair of goals and Mike Moroso scored the deciding goal with 1 minute and 14 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Prowlers to victory.
Former Wolves goalie Blake Scott made 38 saves, including 13 in the third period, to turn back his former team.
“Gritty win,” Moroso said. “We didn’t have many guys tonight, to be honest, we played short. But we found a way to get it done.”
Ryan Marker scored a pair of goals for Watertown (25-21) and rookie Denis Zaychik scored the tying goal early in the third period.
“We had a really nice effort in coming back and tying it,” Watertown coach Paul MacLean said. “But it’s unfortunate, I thought we were trying to be too pretty. On some of the power plays, we were trying to be too pretty instead of just shooting the puck.”
Port Huron (30-14), which won its fourth straight game, took a 4-1 lead with three unanswered goals within the first eight minutes of the second period, capped by a Steven Fowler goal.
“It’s definitely a tough one,” Marker said. “We had a couple bad breakdowns and that’s what obviously cost us the game.”
Kyle Powell followed with a power-play goal 10:11 into the second period and Marker scored with 2:24 left in the period to draw the Wolves within 4-3.
Zaychik tied the game by finishing off a centering feed from Dominik Bogdziul 1:10 into the third period.
Minutes later, Watertown nearly reclaimed the lead, but Bogdziul was stopped by Scott on a breakaway bid.
“Credit Blake, Dominik gets a breakaway and he shuts the door on us,” MacLean said of Scott. “He had a good night against us.”
Then Moroso slipped the puck past Wolves goalie Jeremy Pominville, with Fowler assisting, for the game-winner.
“I was just trying to get out in front and get my stick open,” Moroso said. “He tied me up pretty well, but I managed to just get enough on it just to push it, just to get it going toward the net and luckily it went in. I kind of curled it in.”
Bobby Sokol added an empty-net goal for Port Huron with 5.3 seconds left.
“What we can take out of this is when we play our game, we can out play this team any day,” Marker said. “We just have to stay on the gas. We can’t fall back and allow them to take the game to us, we’ve got to take it from them.
“That was a good bounce for them,” Marker added.
Scott improves to a perfect 11-0 on the season, with three wins coming with Watertown before he left the team in late December and was signed by Port Huron.
“It felt great, but at the end of the day you’ve got to get the win,” Marker said of the Wolves’ comeback attempt that was foiled by the Prowlers. “At the end of the year like this, we have to come up with big wins.”
While the Prowlers sit in second place in the league’s Western Division, the Wolves are nestled in third place in the Eastern Division.
“Absolutely, we’re finding a groove here, getting some wins when we need them and just rolling,” Moroso said.
After the Wolves seized a 1-0 lead on Marker’s goal in the first period, the Prowlers rebounded by scoring the next four goals to build their lead.
Following Austin Fetterly’s tying goal in the first period, Parsons scored twice within a span of 4:08, the second goal coming as he lifted the puck over Pominville 6:16 into the second period.
Fowler then capitalized on a Wolves’ turnover on a bad clearing attempt by Pominville, scoring 1:35 later for a 4-1 lead 7:51 into the period.
Powell followed with a long-range power-play goal to pull Watertown within 4-2 with 9:49 left in the second period.
“The one that Powell got on the power play for a goal, he fired a shot to the net,” MacLean said. “That’s what you want to see.”
The Wolves got within 4-3 with 2:24 left in the period as Marker pounced on a Tyson Bruce rebound, before tying the game on Zaychik’s tally, his first pro goal.
“It was his first North American goal, which was great to see,” Marker said of Zaychik.
“He’s played well, that’s actually a good line,” MacLean said.
Pominville finished with 37 saves on 42 shots faced for Watertown.
Boudreau and Jamie Lukas returned to the Wolves’ lineup after both missed both games because of injury. Both skated on the Wolves’ starting line along with Marker.
The outcome was the last Friday night home game in the regular season for Watertown, which has four home games left, including against Port Huron at 7:30 tonight.
“Whether they’re a division game or not, it doesn’t matter,” MacLean said. “You’ve got to treat every game like it’s the playoffs and you have to find a way.”
n NOTES: Marker has scored 39 goals in 40 games this season, including eight in 10 games with Watertown. ... Powell’s 17 goals this season are a career high. ... The Wolves are 3-3 on their current homestand.