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Privateers claim key game against Whalers

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In a Presidents’ Day encounter, there wasn’t much good will between the Danbury Whalers and the Thousand Islands Privateers.

And in the latest round of a spirited and heated rivalry — which may carry over into a meeting in the playoffs — the Privateers found a way to get back at the Whalers.

Peter Campbell scored two goals and goalie Matt Anthony made 42 saves as Thousand Islands defeated Danbury 3-1 on Monday in a Federal Hockey League clash at Watertown Municipal Arena.

“We’ve had a game plan for the past week and a half and the guys are buying into it,” said Thousand Islands coach Paul Kelly. “We played for a whole 60 minutes and really didn’t take a shift off tonight — this is one of our best games of the year.”

The Privateers (22-26) reversed their fortunes against the Whalers (25-21) after squandering a 3-0 lead in a 5-3 at Danbury on Saturday night.

“This is a huge, huge win for us because we had a letdown against them on Saturday,” Campbell said. “We really let them back in that game, so for us to play a solid 60 minutes as a team is a great feeling, especially this time of the year.”

Thousand Islands also earned a valuable two points in the fight for playoff position in the league. With the win, the Privateers moved into sole possession of third place.

With five regular-season games remaining on its schedule, if Thousand Islands finishes third it would play Danbury in the first round of the playoffs.

“We know they’re a very tough and physical team to play against,” Anthony said of Danbury, which leads the season series, 7-3. “We’ll probably be matched up against them in the playoffs, so we’ve got treat every game that we play against them as a playoff game to prepare for the real thing.”

“Absolutely — we’re playing well,” Campbell said. “We’ve got three wins from our last four and the confidence is there, we know we can beat these teams.”

In this meeting, Campbell scored a pair of goals — one shorthanded and the other while on the power play — within a span of five minutes in the second period to put the Privateers ahead for good at 2-1.

After Danbury cashed in by scoring a goal during a five-minute power play in the first period, Campbell struck first with his shorthanded effort as he finished off a feed from Nick LaPorte and ripped a drive goalie Mike Brown from the left faceoff circle at 7:58.

The Whalers continued to battle through penalty trouble and killed off a pair of two-man advantages totaling two minutes, but Campbell converted on a pass from Sean Walsh for a power-play goal at 12:37.

“I hope this didn’t look like a playoff game,” Danbury coach Phil Esposito said. “Because if that was a playoff game we would be in big trouble because that referee was awful. The refereeing was God awful — it was terrible, it was brutal — that guy shouldn’t be allowed to ref in the FHL ever again.”

Adam McAllister added an empty-net goal with 7.4 seconds left in regulation.

Anthony, who leads the league in saves and minutes played, stopped all 26 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes, including a sequence of saves in close on Richard Vanderhoek and Anthony Pisano with 10 minutes left.

“We’re playing smarter as a team,” said Kelly, whose team hits the road with three games in three days at Danbury on Friday, at Dayton on Saturday and at Danville on Sunday. “Winning three of our last four is obviously a good feeling coming from where we were. And we’re getting healthy — I think this is only the fourth time all year were we’ve had 18 bodies.”

The Whalers had taken a 1-0 lead on Matt Caranci’s power-play goal at 10:28 of the first period after McAllister received a five-minute major for charging.

nNOTES: McAllister leads the Privateers in goals (31), just one ahead of Campbell, who tops the team in points (30-54-84). ... Former St. Lawrence University forward Max Mobley, who played earlier this season for Danbury, was signed by the Privateers earlier in the month and has been skating on the top line with Campbell and McAllister.




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