WATERTOWN — The Watertown Wolves lineup has undergone several changes due to injuries, trades and other roster transactions, but the Wolves continue to pile up the wins at home.
Watertown put its special teams on display with two power-play goals, and a shorthanded tally by Federal Hockey League leading scorer Tyler Gjurich, to beat the Danville Dashers, 4-2, in a the second game of a three-game series Saturday night at the Watertown Municipal Ice Arena.
Troy Polino, who played his first game in nearly two seasons, and captain John Scully each netted a goal and an assist for the Wolves (17-11-4), who have won five straight games at home. Cody Karpinski made 33 saves.
Aaron Taylor stopped 46 shots while Justin Brausen and Christian Whitcomb recorded goals for Danville (16-16-3), which has lost four in a row.
Polino is the second straight Watertown player to produce in his first game with the team, after coming into the Syracuse airport at 4:45 a.m. C.J. Hayes registered two goals in the Wolves 6-5 overtime victory Friday night.
“I was a player myself and all I preach is the D (defensive zone), and I let them play their game in offensive zone,” Watertown head coach Trevor Karasiewicz said.
Danville coach Brent Clarke, who helmed Watertown to its only championship in the 2015-16 season, has been going through the same roster fluctuations with his team. He’s had players loaned out to the Southern Professional Hockey League and lost the team’s leading scorer Andrew Harrison to injury.
“We’ve got six of our top guys called up and our best player blew his shoulder out,” Clarke said. “We’re doing the exact same thing (as Watertown).”
Karasiewicz, who is a former FHL player, knows the difficulties of coming into a new team. He’s been pleased with the new acquisitions contributing right away.
“It’s nice to see guys step in and get the monkey off their back,” Karasiewicz said.
The Wolves also killed off all six power-play attempts for the Dashers. Watertown gave up a pair of goals when down a man in Friday’s victory.
“The penalty kill out there was beautiful out there,” Polino said. “Guys were out there working their butts off.”
Watertown peppered Taylor in the opening period and finally broke through when Dustin Jesseau netted the Wolves’ first power-play marker 10 minutes, five seconds into the first. Justin Brausen collected the puck and fired it past Karpinski with 1:02 left in the first to tie the game at one.
Polino then blasted a shot from the edge of the right faceoff circle to re-establish the lead 27 seconds into the second. Gjurich then streaked in on a shorthanded chance and slid the puck past Taylor to give Watertown a 3-1 lead at the end of the second.
Whitcomb’s goal came with controversy as the Wolves argued the net had been knocked off its moorings, but the officials awarded the Dashers the goal with 3:53 left in regulation. Scully scored 1:19 later to give Watertown some breathing room.
The Wolves now have a chance to pull away from the Dashers in the standings. Watertown possess a .521 winning percentage and has three games in hand on Danville, which is at a .476 winning percentage.
“We need to create some space between us and the bottom teams in the standings,” Jesseau said. “Another win will make that happen.”
The final game of the three-game set is 7 p.m. today at the Municipal Ice Arena.