Birds fall short in shootout after magnificent comeback

DANBURY, Conn.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, dropped a 7-6 decision in a shootout to the Danbury Hat Tricks at Danbury Arean on Thursday night.

“I’m proud of the way we battled back,” said head coach Andre Niec, “it took a lot for us to get back there and our guys believe in each other and didn’t get down on themselves and that was big.”

The Thunderbirds trailed 5-1 just 3:14 into the second period and would trail later in the second 6-2, but Carolina reeled off four unanswered goals to tie the game before the end of regulation.

Daniel Martin opened the scoring just 1:34 into the game, beating Dillon Kelley on the first shot of the game, but Danbury would unleash an offensive onslaught to end the first.

Carter Shinkaruk would tied the game 4:14 into the frame, scoring his 16th of the season and one of his three goals in the game.

Vladislav Gavrik and Jonny Ruiz scored back-to-back powerplay goals on the league’s best penalty kill to make it 3-1 and Shinkaruk would score his second of the game on a shorthanded breakaway.

3:14 into the second period, Ruiz notched his second on a breakway to make it 5-1. Joe Cangelosi answered with his seventh goal of the season for the Thunderbirds, but unrelenting, Shinkaruk buried a feed from Shane Morrisey to make it 6-2.

Looking for a surge, newcomer Mike Henrici blasted a one-timer over the blocker of Kelley to inch Carolina closer and Konner Haas potted a rebound from a Jay Kenney shot to make it 6-4 after the second period. Kenney had a career-high three assists in the game.

“Jay Kenney really stepped us for us tonight,” said Niec, “everybody did.”

The Thunderbirds struck gold when Haas scored after the media timeout late in the third period, beating Kelley over his catching-side shoulder.

With just six minutes remaining, Stan Vlasov lobbed a pass to a streaking Petr Panacek who made no mistake on the breakaway, tying the game a six.

“I’m just glad I caught the pass,” said Panacek.

Carolina shelled Kelley with 65 shots through regulation and overtime, but the Hat Tricks started stopped all six shootout tries from the Thunderbirds. Daniel Martin nearly won the game, but struck the crossbar.

“I had him,” said Martin, shaking his head.

Casper Dyrssen won the game for Danbury in the sixth inning of the shootout.

The Thunderbirds will regroup and try again tomorrow in Danbury at 7:00 p.m. vs. the Hat Tricks.