Carolina Holds On In Front Of Sellout Crowd For 15th Straight Win
Winston-Salem, NC - The Thunderbirds franchise record winning streak survived a couple of scares Saturday night but a sellout crowd helped propel Carolina en route to a 5-4 win over Danville.
Danville opened the scoring just 1:22 into the hockey game when Nathan Pelligra came right down the middle and froze Carolina netminder Frankie McClendon with a fake shot before a deke to the left saw him bury it in the net for a 1-0 Danville lead. Carolina would respond later in the first period with Chase Fallis banging home a rebound given up by Danville goalie Matt Kaludis. At the break Carolina and Danville were tied in a back and forth affair.
The second period saw the tug of war continue and it was newly acquired Thunderbird Matt Baker who scored and broke the early tie. Baker took a pass from Josh Pietrantonio from behind the net and one-timed it past Kaludis to give Carolina their first lead of the night.
Danville would not be silenced though as Justin Brausen picked up goal #13 on the year for himself during a 5-on-3 advantage for the Dashers. McClendon was screened well on the play as Brausen put it blocker side.
The 2-2 tie lasted all the way to the intermission and it was Danville who jumped out first in the final frame with Daniel Martin pulling a nice inside-out deke to get around a man and go 5-hole on the goalie to restore Danville's lead.
Carolina would dig deep and find an extra gear as they potted the next three goals in the game. Jan Salak fired one home from the top of the right circle after covering for Seth Gustin (who got an assist on the play) driving deep for a chance on Kaludis. Later in the period, Chase Fallis tipped in his second of the night as Stan Vlasov set him up back door with a beautiful slap pass.
The Thunderbirds' fifth goal would be scored on a major power play after Alex Pommerville was assessed a match penalty for a check to the head against Peter Cicmanec. The goal was score by the newly signed Chase Lewis after a number of deflections in the slot. The Winston-Salem native matched his goal total from last year in his first game this season.
Just as the crowd was ready to sing "Sweet Caroline" and welcome in a 15 game winning streak, Nathan Pelligra scored on a laser beam with eight seconds left in the game to make it 5-4 and inject a little worry into the crowd. After a timeout taken by the Thunderbirds, the game would end with Danville never having a sniff of Carolina's zone in the game's dying seconds.
Frankie McClendon stopped 24 of 28 shots in the win, Matt Kaludis stopped 46 of 51 shots in the loss.
Carolina now looks to host the Watertown Wolves for the first time this season for a two game set next weekend. Friday night is mascot mania as we celebrate Winston and Salem's birthday with all of their mascot friends brought to you by Nothing Bundt Cake. Then Saturday night is throwback night brought to you by WTOB where we honor the proud heritage of Piedmont Triad hockey.
3 Stars of the Game
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 also set an FHL record with over 66,000 fans through the doors in their first season. Season and group tickets are on sale now by calling 336-774-GOAL (4625).