Carolina Erases 3-Goal Deficit, Defeats Port Huron in Overtime

Winston-Salem, NC - Port Huron silenced a crowd of 2,847 early with a 3-0 lead early in the second period, then the Carolina Thunderbirds came from behind with four unanswered goals to win 4-3 in overtime on Friday night.

Frankie McClendon got the start for Carolina tonight but would only last one period as Port Huron put two past him in the first period. The first goal was set up by Austin Fetterly passing through the neutral zone to put Matyas Kasek on a breakaway and he finished over the glove hand of McClendon to make it 1-0.

The second goal given up by McClendon was an unfortunate gift in the eyes of Carolina fans. After a stick save made on a dump in McClendon went to glove the puck but missed putting his hand over top of it and slipped it to the slot where Matt Graham ended up shooting it home for a 2-0 lead through one.

The Thunderbirds made a goalie change after the first with Christian Pavlas taking over the net for McClendon to being the period. It didn't take Port Huron long to solve another Carolina netminder. After seven seconds Matt Robertson wristed a shot past the glove hand of Pavlas to give Port Huron a 3-0 lead.

Carolina would shore themselves up defensively and not allow any more goals in the game, but there was still the task of climbing the three goal mountain in front of them.

The first step was made by Michael Bunn finishing off a beautiful two-on-one between him and Petr Panacek about five minutes in to the second period to awaken the Annex crowd. Viktor Grebennikov would bring Carolina within one before the second period ended with a shot from along the goal line that trickled through Cory Simons and went over the line for the goal. Grebennikov's seventh of the year gave the game a 3-2 scoreline heading in to the third.

During the third period Carolina fired off many shots and kept the pressure on Simons who was tall to the task until the 17:29 mark of the third period when a Michael Bunn centering feed deflected off Petr Panacek and went top shelf over Simons for a tie game with less than three minutes to go in regulation.

A controversial moment occurred in the last minute of the game when Jiri Pestuka was high sticked after a shot that went undetected from the referee. On the ensuing rush Port Huron was 3-on-2 coming in to the Carolina end but the referee blew play dead for what he deemed to be a serious injury. Port Huron unhappy about the loss of opportunity, Carolina unhappy about no penalty, all this with 40 seconds to go in regulation.

Those last 40 seconds ticked off and then the game went to overtime, the second consecutive overtime for Carolina this season. This one though went a little bit better as 1:35 into the extra frame Jiri Pestuka (who shook off the missed high stick that injured him earlier) backhanded one past Simons to send the crowd home happy.

Christian Pavlas picked up the win with 41 minutes of work and 12 saves on 13 shots. Cory Simons took the OT loss with 56 saves on 60 shots.

The same two teams meet again at the Annex Saturday night with less than 100 tickets available at the time of this writing. Tickets can be found online at TicketMaster.

Three Stars of the Game

Jiri Pestuka
Michael Bunn
Petr Panacek


The Carolina Thunderbirds are proud members of the Federal Hockey League, now in its ninth season. The Thunderbirds are in their second season of play looking to build on the success of their inaugural season where the team posted an 87-point season with a record of 25-5-2-24 (W-OTW-OTL-L). The Thunderbirds have set an FHL record again, breaking their own record with over 66,000 fans through the doors this season.