Carolina Clinches 3rd Place, Beat Dashers 4-2
Winston-Salem, NC –Carolina Clinches 3rd Place, Beat Dashers 4-2.
How It Happened
Sunday afternoon would mark the the last match-up against the Danville Dashers for the Carolina Thunderbirds this season. Having won 4-2 on Saturday night, Carolina was in position to lock in 3rd place in the Federal Hockey League standings with a win. Danville, playing with a short bench still sits in 4th place in the standings, having clinched a berth in the FHL Commissioner’s Cup Playoffs. A win for Danville would keep the hopes of taking 3rd place away from the Thunderbirds alive.
The Dashers would start Aaron Taylor in net. The rookie from Stouffville, Ontario sports a 9-9-1 record entering action, with a 2.98 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage, both numbers are 2nd in the FHL standings. For Carolina it would be Chris Paulin starting in between the pipes, entering action on Sunday with a 5-4 record, a 3.56 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage. Paulin also has the only Thunderbirds shutout of the season.
Both teams would take time to get things started in the 1st period. The slow start would turn into a wave of Thunderbird offense, but the Dashers would be the team with the 1st chance. At 8:39 of the period Artur Drindrozhik would take a 2-minute hooking minor, sending the Dashers on the man-advantage. Carolina would kill the penalty off and quickly resume their offensive pressure. At 14:38 of the period Michael Bunn would head in on a rush and cut quickly into the slot away from the Dasher defense. Aaron Taylor would get a piece of his shot, but not enough, 1-0 Carolina. Jay Croop would assist on Bunn’s team-leading 26th goal of the season. The teams would skate to the 1st intermission with the score 1-0 Carolina, who would also lead in shots 12-5
The 2nd period would see the intensity level rise, as the physical play would ramp up. Both sides would trade chances, and Danville would create more offensive pressure than they had in the 1st period. At 13:32 of the period Danville would get a chance when Steve MacIntyre would take a 2-minute boarding minor, and on the power-play the Dashers would score. Michael Dolman would find the puck off a net-mouth scramble and score his 10th goal of the season, Jimmy Soper getting credit for the assist. Just after the goal things would boil over, and MacIntyre would take a 5-minute spearing major, a 2-minute unsportsmanlike conduct minor, and a game misconduct, putting his team short-handed for 7 total minutes. During the penalty-kill, Rick O’Connor would take a tripping minor, but Carolina would be able to kill off the 5-on-3 power-play. The period would end with the score tied and the shots a mirror image of the 1st. In the 2nd the Dashers would out-shoot Carolina 12-5, giving each team 17 for the total through 2.
As a result of the MacIntyre penalties the Thunderbirds would start the 3rd period short-handed for 1:46. The Thunderbirds would kill the penalty off and quickly turn around with a long stretch of offensive pressure of their own. At 12:39 of the period the pressure would boil over when Jason Berube would wire the puck past Taylor to take a 2-1 lead, with Artur Drindrozhik assisting on the goal. Just over 2 minutes later the Dashers would respond when Sean Reynolds would be set up in front by Michael Dolman. A tap in past the diving Chris Paulin would even the game up at 2 with just under 4 minutes to play. Just 16 seconds later however it would be Drindrozhik driving wide on the near-side wing. He would drop the puck to a waiting Tom Kilgore who would beat Taylor underneath the arm on the near side, same place that Berube would score. With the lead, Carolina would hold defensively. The Dashers would pull Taylor for the extra skater, but it would be for naught as Michael Bunn would ice the game with an empty-net goal, his 2nd of the game. Carolina would secure the win and a 3rd place finish for the 2017-2018 FHL regular season, securing a 1st round match-up against the Watertown Wolves.
In the loss, Aaron Taylor would stop 26 of 40 sent his way. Chris Paulin, earning his 6th win of the season, stopped 19 of 21.
Tom Kilgore’s 3rd period goal is his 3rd game-winner of the season.
Michael Bunn continues his points streak against Danville, he now has 6 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games.
The Thunderbirds’ will travel to Port Huron next weekend for a 2-game set against the Port Huron Prowlers. Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31, with both nights featuring a 7:30 pm EST puck drop. Tune in on the Thunderbirds Radio Network with the Honda of Winston-Salem pre-game show starting both nights at 7:05 pm. For more information about the Thunderbirds please call 336-774-GOAL(4625) or log on to www.carolinathunderbirds.com