Ruiz, Hat Tricks snap Wolves’ streak

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WATERTOWN — On a marathon night, most of which was spent just waiting for the start of the game, it fittingly went the distance.

Rocco DiConstanzo scored on a tip-in one minute and 27 seconds into overtime on a power-play goal to lift the Watertown Wolves to a 5-4 victory over the Danbury Hat Tricks early Tuesday morning in a Federal Prospects Hockey League game before a smattering of diehard fans at Watertown Municipal Arena.

“It’s nice to get the win, but this was bad,” Wolves captain Justin MacDonald said. “I mean it’s great that we won the game, but with them coming in and not having the proper time to warm up, we should have been a lot better. Penalties hurt us big time, I think they scored all four with them on the power play. Take those away and we’re winning. ... But it’s a relief to win the game.”

In a meeting of the top two teams in the FPHL, the game began less than an hour before midnight Monday in a game that started three hours and 38 minutes after the scheduled start time of 7:30 p.m. because of Danbury team travel issues.

Cole McKechney scored two goals and assisted on another and goalie Gregory Hussey made 24 saves to back league-leading Watertown (14-3) to its fifth consecutive win. The Wolves also halted the second-place Hat Tricks’ winning streak at nine games.

Danbury (14-3-2) came back to force overtime, erasing a 4-0 deficit as Kodiak Whiteduck tied the game with a power-play goal with 1:12 left in regulation as with their goalie pulled, the Hat Tricks converted on a two-man advantage.

DiConstanzo followed with the OT game-winner, tipping in a Josh LaBelle drive and beating Hat Tricks goalie Frankie McClendon.

“It was nice, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot after the (4-0) lead and you never want to go to OT like that,” DiConstanzo said. “You want to finish off that win. But we moved the puck well on the goal and we were in the right spot at the right time. It was definitely a wild night.”

The Danbury team was delayed because of bus problems, with at least one team bus breaking down en route to Watertown.

The Hat Tricks arrived at the arena just after 10:30 p.m., just after the Wolves took to the ice for their pregame warmups.

Danbury hit the ice at 11:04 p.m. and the team was allowed a short warmup before the puck officially dropped four minutes later.

“It’s tough, it’s tough on the body because you don’t know what you’re doing,” MacDonald said. “You don’t know when to start your actual warmup, when you’re getting dressed and then all of a sudden at 10:18, it’s like ‘hey boys, we’re on the ice in 12 minutes.’ And mentally it’s draining. ... At least we were here and settled in.”

The game itself took two hours and six minutes, but ended at 1:14 a.m. with DiConstanzo’s goal.

Watertown struck for two goals within the first 2½ minutes. MacDonald scored 2:05 into the game and McKechney followed with a goal 22 seconds later. Danbury starting goalie Brian Wilson was pulled after yielding the second goal.

Then LaBelle and McKechney scored power-play goals within a span of 61 seconds to provide the Wolves with a 4-0 lead, with McKechney’s tally coming with 1:45 left in the first period.

McKechney finished with three points in the first period, including an assist,

Following a 15-minute intermission, Danbury’s Dmitry Kuznetsov scored a power-play goal 58 seconds into the second.

Jonny Ruiz and Steve Brown then followed with power-play goals within a stretch of 1:04, both coming with the Hat Tricks on two-man advantages, to pull within 4-3 with 9:44 left in the period.

LaBelle finished with a goal and three assists for Watertown, which has now won three of five meetings with Danbury this season.

“In games like that, teams hang around and it’s a perfect example, they easily could have won that,” MacDonald said of Danbury.

The Wolves will host the Delaware Thunder at 7:30 p.m. Thursday before playing at the Binghamton Black Bears on Friday in a 6 p.m. start time on New Year’s Eve.

n NOTES: The attendance for Monday night’s game was announced at 516, but about 100 were on hand for the opening faceoff. ... Hussey is now 7-2 with the Wolves this season and leads the team in wins. Watertown entered leading the league in winning percentage (.792) as well as goals scored (86) and fewest goals allowed (36) in 16 games. ... Watertown goalie Breandan Colgan returned to the Wolves last week after he played one game with Knoxville of the Southern Professional Hockey League. LaBelle was assigned to Watertown last week after a stint with Birmingham of the SPHL.

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