Carolina Rides Dominant 2nd Period to 7-2 Win for 18th Straight

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds moved their winning streak to 18 with a dominant 7-2 win over the Mentor Ice Breakers Friday night in front of a sold out Fairgrounds Annex.

Carolina got on the board first with Michael Bunn tallying his seventh goal of the season on a one-timer set up by Joe Cangelosi from behind the net, Bunn played up in more of a forward's role in this game after being played mainly as a defenseman so far this season.

The Ice Breakers would respond later in the frame with Joe Swenson banking one in off the far post after a clean faceoff win by Patrick Porkka. That goal would quickly be overshadowed by a power play tally by Petr Panacek 2:12 later. Panacek picked up a loose puck after a deflection by Dominik Fejt went unseen by Mentor goalie Derek Moser and we was left out of position while Panacek slid it home.

The first period would end with a 2-1 scoreline in favor of Carolina but the team talk that was delivered by Thunderbirds head coach Andre Niec must have had the Thunderbirds thinking they were on the wrong end of the scoreline because Carolina came out firing all period long.

44 seconds into the middle frame Josh Pietrantonio made a heads up pass on the backdoor to Jan Salak that went through many different pairs of legs in the slot and Salak had a wide open net to throw the puck in to to make it 3-1.

After that early goal the game settled down a bit but Carolina kept up the forecheck and the offensive zone pressure and got another goal through Viktor Grebennikov. Grebennikov, returning to the Thunderbirds after time away with his family, scored in his return game and the scoreline was starting to get ugly at 4-1, then Jan Salak added his second of the game to make it 5-1 minutes later.

After that second Salak goal a decent scrap between Vaughn Clouston and Mike Baker resulted in both men sitting for five minutes for fighting. The sellout crowd couldn't contain themselves at this point, seeing a great physical effort by Salak to get his second goal and then immediately after seeing a fight between two solid combatants.

The Thunderbirds would keep feeding off of that energy from the crowd of 3,000+ and in the late stages of the second period Jay Kenney fired a rocket between the legs of Moser to make it 6-1 going into the locker room again.

Unfortunately it wasn't all good vibes in the locker room as Viktor Grebennikov suffered a leg injury after catching an edge near the half boards in his own zone. He would not return for the third period and Grebennikov's status is currently unknown at this time.

With the scoreline getting ugly the game turned physical and at one point in the third period Carolina found themselves down two men to the Ice Breakers. Mentor would capitalize on this with Thomas Devesvre scoring on a snipe from the left circle that Carolina goalie Christian Pavlas had a chance on but needed more time to get across and locate. Carolina would add one more for good measure with Josh Pietrantonio scoring shorthanded 50 seconds after the Devesvre goal on a play set up by Jiri Pestuka from behind the net.

Pietrantonio's goal gave the game its final 7-2 scoreline and saw the Thunderbirds win for the 18th time in a row.

Carolina and Mentor both now look ahead to a Saturday date at the Fairgrounds Annex with a 6:05 puck drop. Pregame show on the Carolina Thunderbirds Broadcast Network starts at 5:40.

Three Stars of the Game
Josh Pietrantonio
Viktor Grebennikov
Jan Salak