Carolina Holds Off Danville Again, Wins 5-3

Winston-Salem, NC –Carolina Hold Off Danville Again, Wins 5-3. 

How It Happened

In typical fashion for the two teams Friday night’s contest between the Carolina Thunderbirds and Danville Dashers was an exciting affair that went down to the wire. Carolina’s Michael Bunn would score 2 unanswered goals to give Carolina the lead, and a Jay Croop goal in the 2nd period would make it a 3-1 Thunderbird lead. The Dashers would push late and score within the last minute of the game, but Carolina would hold on to earn the 3-2 win. Saturday’s match-up has playoff implications, if only for possession of the 3rd place spot in the Federal Hockey League Playoffs. Danville would travel down to Winston-Salem with a short bench, fielding only 14 players.

In net for the Dashers it would be Aaron Taylor, who would let in one goal on 25 shots after replacing Matt Kaludis in the loss on Friday night. Taylor sports an 8-8-1 record with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage, both 2nd best in the FHL.

For Carolina they would start Chris Paulin in net, with his 4-4 record alongside his 3.63 goals-against average and .880 save percentage. Paulin is also the only Thunderbird goalie to record a shut-out this season.

Both teams would need the early part of the 1st period to warm up from the long trip, but both teams would soon resume the frantic pace at which they played in the previous night’s action. Early on in the physicality would boil over and Bunn would be sent off along with Christian Whitcomb, each taking 2 minutes for roughing. Neither team would be able to convert on the 4-on-4 hockey, but shortly after the Dashers would break through. Justin Brausen would find Matt Coleman in the neutral zone with time and space, and on the odd-man rush Coleman would wire the puck past Paulin to make it 1-0 Danville. Carolina would increase their pressure and at 18:53 of the period Michael Bunn would continue his hot streak, breaking out of his own zone and racing end to end and coast to coast before cutting in on net and burying the puck high past Taylor to tie the game at 1. Stanislav Vlasov and Jay Kenney would assist on Bunn’s team-leading 24th goal of the season. The teams would skate tied into the intermission, with Carolina leading in shots 10-6.

In the 2nd Carolina would break the deadlock early on when at 6:22 of the period Artur Drindrozhik would lead Kyle Stevens ahead on a break. Stevens would make a step move around Dasher defenseman Craig Skudalski and fire the puck across to Tom Kilgore, who would beat Taylor on the 2-on-1. The goal is Kilgore’s 14th of the season and gave the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead. Shortly after however the Thunderbirds would get into some penalty trouble when at 8:53 of the period Rick O’Connor would take a high-sticking minor. Carolina would be able to kill off the penalty, but later on the Dashers would get their 2nd chance. At 17:49 of the 2nd Justin Blaszak would take a cross-checking penalty, sending the Dashers on their 2nd man-advantage of the game. A smart slap-pass across from Justin Brausen would find Sean Reynolds set up in the far corner. His shot would ring off the back of Paulin and in, tying the game at 2. For Reynolds, it’s his 15th goal of the season and his 3rd on the power-play. The teams would remain tied into the 2nd intermission, with Carolina still leading in shots 21-14.

The 3rd period would follow the script of the past 5 periods of hockey, and the intensity would increase as the time remaining kept shrinking. Early in the 3rd Artur Drindrozhik would race in on net and use his speed to wrap the puck around and beat Taylor to make it 3-2 Carolina. Tom Kilgore and Kyle Stevens would assist on the goal. Carolina would get their 1st power-play chance of the evening when at 9:30 of the period Ben Boukal would be called for cross-checking. On the power-play however, Sean Reynolds would come racing in and be tripped up by Blaszak, causing a penalty shot. Reynolds would out-deke Chris Paulin to tie the game up at 3, short-handed. Not long after Carolina would have a chance to redeem themselves on the power-play, when at 13:45 Justin Brausen would take a tripping minor. Off a net-mouth scramble Michael Bunn would find the back of the net for his 2nd goal of the game and his 5th power-play goal of the season. Ray Boudiette and Rick O’Connor would assist on the tally. The Dashers would pull Aaron Taylor and continue to pressure, forcing Chris Paulin to make several acrobatic saves. Late in the game however, CJ Blaszka would find Ray Boudiette alone in the neutral zone, who would tuck the puck into the empty net, securing Carolina’s 5-3 victory.

In the loss Aaron Taylor would stop 25 of 29, while in the win Paulin would deny 22 of 25.

Notable Stats

Sean Reynolds 2nd goal of the game on the short-handed penalty shot is the 10th shorthanded goal given up by the Thunderbirds this season.

Michael Bunn continues his hot streak, he now has 5 points in the last 2 games, 4 goals and 1 assist.


What’s Next

The Thunderbirds’ will finish their season series against the Danville Dashers on the weekend of March 23, 24, and 25. Friday the 23rd the game will be in Danville, with an 8:00 pm EST puck drop. The series will then switch back to Winston-Salem once again, and Saturday the 24th the puck drop will be at 6:05 pm at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. Sunday the 25th will feature a matinee game with a 4:05 pm puck drop. For more information about the Thunderbirds please call 336-774-GOAL(4625) or log on to