Conway's 3rd period snipe leads Thunderbirds past Columbus
Columbus, GA -- The Carolina Thunderbirds are the only team in the FPHL to beat the Columbus River Dragons at home this season. They continued their hostile takeover of the Columbus Civic Center on Friday night with a 4-3 win over their biggest rival. The victory is Carolina's third in Columbus this season.
Prior to Friday night's contest, Cody Oakes had missed the last five games with an upper body injury he sustained in Watertown. The speedy defenseman wasted no time welcoming himself back into the lineup. As Tim Perks skated the puck into the Columbus zone, Adam Vanelli poked it off of his stick to the trailing Oakes. Snapping the puck low to the glove side of Jared Rutledge, Oakes' 4th of the season gave Carolina the 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Gus Ford and Tommy Cardinal stormed up ice on a 2-on-1. Ford slipped a backhand pass over to Cardinal, who tapped it home for the game's second goal. With the assist, Ford extended his point streak to 16 games. Hunter Bersani would find the back of the net for Columbus, but the Thunderbirds took the lead into the first intermission, 2-1.
Josh Pietrantonio had scored goals in 14 of the 15 games leading into Friday night, and he would improve that mark to 15 of the last 16 in the second period. Out of a goal mouth scramble, Pietrantonio potted his team-leading 22nd goal of the season on the power play, tying the game at 2-2. Carolina would not stay down for long, with their leading scorer finding a goal of his own. From his office in the right-wing circle, Gus Ford snapped another shot low to the blocker side of Rutledge for a 3-2 Carolina lead.
Carolina's momentum stalled a bit in the 3rd period, but not before Declan Conway found his way onto the scoresheet. Snapping a shot over the glove of Rutledge, he joins teammates Gus Ford and Jacob Schnapp as Thunderbirds to score their first FPHL goal in Columbus. The goal comes in Conway's first game as a Thunderbird. Carolina's lead would be tested, but not fail. Robert Vanwynsberghe brought Columbus within a goal with the extra attacker, but the game went into the books as a 4-3 Carolina victory.
The Thunderbirds are currently riding a three-game win streak, and have points in each of their last four games. The second of this three-game weekend is scheduled for 7:30 on Saturday night.