Blue Ridge Back in Town
Winston-Salem, NC – Coming off three-straight wins, the Carolina Thunderbirds are set to host the Blue Ridge Bobcats for the third time this season on Thursday evening at the Annex. The Thunderbirds swept the Port Huron Prowlers a weekend ago, taking game one on Friday night, 2-1, in overtime while putting up a season-high nine goals on Saturday in a 9-5 victory.
Thursday night’s matchup marks the sixth meeting all time between the two sides, with Carolina winning the first five contests. The Thunderbirds in the five wins have outscored the Bobcats 25-6 and are averaging 5.0 goals per game. The last time the two sides faced off was on December 22nd in Wytheville, with the Thunderbirds picking up their lone shutout win on the season, 5-0.
Across the series, forwards Gus Ford and Petr Panacek have shined. Ford has nine points in five games against Blue Ridge, netting seven goals and picking up two assists, while Panacek has two goals and nine assists in four games. Panacek has been on a tear this season, recording at least an assist in nine of his last eleven appearances and totaling 28 assists, which is tied for second in the FPHL. Ford leads the league in goals with 22 this season and is tied for second in points with 44.
Blue Ridge comes into the weekend amid a five-game losing streak, being shut out three times over that stretch. The Bobcats were shutout in two straight games against Columbus and Carolina prior to Christmas before having a week off and restarting after the New Year’s. Last weekend, Blue Ridge dropped a tight contest against Columbus, 4-2, on Friday before being shut out on Saturday, 7-0, in Columbus. After the two games in Columbus, the Bobcats traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi to face the Mississippi Sea Wolves and fell, 7-2.
Carolina currently sits second heading into the weekend in the Continental Division with 52 points, one shy of current leaders, Columbus, with 53. The River Dragons also have two games in hand over the Thunderbirds but make one up this weekend with Thursday night being the only game on the weekend for the Thunderbirds who have their lone weekend off in the regular season.
Puck drop between Carolina and Blue Ridge is set for 7:35 p.m. from the Annex. Tickets are still available at the Annex Box Office or on Ticketmaster. If you can’t make it to the rink Thursday night, fans can catch the game on Thunderbirds TV or on WTOB 980 AM between the Thunderbirds and Bobcats with the voice of the Thunderbirds, Brendan Reilly, on the call.