Baker's OT Goal Sends Thunderbirds to Second Round
In a thrilling Game 2 of the Continental Division Semifinal between the Carolina Thunderbirds and Port Huron Prowlers in front of a raucous crowd of 2, 784 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, a full 60 minutes of playoff hockey were not enough to decide whether one team's season would continue or end.
Dawson Baker answered any and all remaining questions four minutes and 37 seconds into the first overtime.
Joe Kennedy turned the puck over in the defensive zone on a poke check, and saucered a pass ahead for Gus Ford. Ford delayed crossing the attacking blue line, and centered a pass to Baker right on the tape of his stick. Baker sniped home a wrist shot into the back of the net, sent the Annex into a frenzy and sent the Thunderbirds to the second round.
Baker earned first star honors for his game and series winning goal, as well as his goal in the second period that put the Thunderbirds ahead 2-1.
Jan Salak earned second star honors with two goals. His first was an equalizer, 82 seconds into the second period to knot the game at 1. He then followed Baker's middle frame marker with another of his own on the power play just 34 seconds into the third period to give the Thunderbirds a 3-1 advantage.
A resilient Port Huron group responded, in the form of a natural hat trick from Tucker Scantlebury. Scantlebury's first came just 12 seconds after Salak's goal. 12 seconds after Scantelbury's marker, he added another, which capped a wild sequence that saw 3 goals combined from both teams in just the first 58 seconds of the third period. Scantlebury completed his natural hat trick with under 8 minutes to go in regulation.
Petr Panacek was clutch yet again, following up a game 1 hat trick with a game-tying goal with under two minutes remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.
The Thunderbirds will now meet the archrival Columbus River Dragons in the Continental Division Final. Columbus will host game 1 as the lower seed. Carolina will host game 2 and an if necessary game 3. Dates and start times will be announced soon.