by Rob Lippolis

COLUMBUS (GA) - Nikita Ivashkin scored a hat trick in a 7-5 loss on the road to the Columbus River Dragons on Friday night.

Austin Daae gave Columbus an early lead after a pass from below the goal line. Edgars Ozolins fed Daae inside the hash marks and his shot snuck through the pads of Joe Sheppard for the 1-0 lead. The goal came just 2:54 into the game with assists from Ozolins and Hunter Bersani.

Binghamton responded just minutes later to tie the game at one. Josh Newberg fed Nikita Ivashkin on a breakaway, and he beat goaltender Jared Rutledge for his 16th goal of the year just 5:39 into the contest. Assist were credited to Newberg and Egor Nosov and the game was tied at one after one period.

Colan Fitzgerald gave the Black Bears the lead just 2:40 into the second period. Erik Oganezov and Geno DeAngelo both had touches, but Fitzgerald was credited with his first of the year to give Binghamton a 2-1 lead. 

Columbus evened up the score on a shot from the right point. Daae recorded his second of the night and eighth of the year. Assists on the game-tying goal were handed out to Josh Pietrantonio and Paul Fregeau and came at 12:04 of the second.

Kyle Powell and Ivashkin scored back-to-back goals late in the period to take a two-goal lead into the third. Powell tapped in a rebound to the left of the crease at 16:49 for his second of the year and Ivashkin’s second of the game came with 14 seconds remaining. The Black Bears took the 4-2 lead into the final period despite being outshot, 36-19.

Noah Doyle cashed in on a power-play goal at 6:24 of the third period to pull Columbus within two. Doyle let a shot go as the penalty was expiring and beat Sheppard for his third of the year. The goal cut the Black Bears’ lead to one. 

Columbus continued to score four more goals. Pietrantonio tied the game at four 10:12 into the final period Daau and Fregeau collected the assists on the game-tying tally. 

Jay Croop tied the game for Columbus with just 3:23 left in regulation. Croop’s shot beat Sheppard with helpers from Jake Grade and MJ Graham for a 5-4 advantage and the River Dragons didn’t look from there. 

Daae gave the River Dragons the lead with 55 seconds left in the third and Adam Vannelli added an empty-net goal late in regulation for the 7-5 victory.

The Black Bears return home on Saturday, December 18 for Teddy Bear Toss Night against rival Watertown at 7:00 p.m.! Live music on the concourse, happy hour drink specials from 5:30 p.m. until puck drop at 7:00 p.m. 

Stay current with the latest team news by visiting www.binghamtonblackbears.com, by calling 607-722-7367, or visiting the front office on the third floor of the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena. Follow the Black Bears all year long on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.