Carolina Completes Season Sweep of Black Bears with 9-5 Win


In the season series finale between the cross-division rivals, the Carolina Thunderbirds once again dominated offensively, romping the Binghamton Black Bears 9-5 to complete a season sweep.

The fifth meeting between two of the top four teams in the league had everything that the previous matchups had, just a lot more offense. Still played with speed, physicality, and great goaltending on both sides. But with Binghamton's 54 shots on goal and Carolina's 49, both offenses were rolling.

Matthew Bazarin opened the scoring six minutes into the opening frame, sending a wrist shot through the legs of Riley McVeigh to net his first goal as a Thunderbird and make it 1-0.

Three minutes and 34 seconds later, Josh Koepplinger scooped up a rebound out of a net mouth scramble and sniped it home underneath the crossbar to double the Thunderbirds lead.

Carolina continued their bombardment in the middle frame, with Gus Ford adding his 37th goal of the season on a breakaway, then feeding a backdoor pass put home by John Buttitta on the power play. Ford, the league leader in points, extended that total to 93 with another goal in the third.

Binghamton finally chiseled away and got one past Boris Babik when Austin Thompson poked home a rebound for the Black Bears first goal in five and a half periods of hockey. Jake Schultz added another on a similar play four minutes later.

Justin Pringle continued his strong play of late, popping home a rebound in the second as well, seven minutes and seven seconds into the middle period.

The Black Bears did what they could in the third to keep up in the goalfest, as Thompson added his second and Yates scored back-to-back-goals, but it wasn't enough.

Petr Panacek added another goal off of a rebound, backhanding one home in his second game back from an extended injury absence. Brice French even got in on the fun, smacking home a beautiful backdoor pass from Panacek for just his second goal of the season. 

Koepplinger added the exclamation point, one-timing a shot home for his second goal of the night off a perfectly executed 3-on-2 rush with Ford and Pringle in the game's final minute.

The Thunderbirds remain at home, with three games next weekend to wrap up their regular season series with a potential playoff opponent, the Motor City Rockers.