Dual shorthanded goals secure second Thunderbird victory of weekend

Harrington, DE – On the back of Tommy Cardinal and Jacob Schnapp shorthanded goals, the Carolina Thunderbirds defeated the Delaware Thunder on Saturday night, 5-3. The regulation win was Carolina’s 20th of the season and seventh against the Thunder.

Less than 24 hours after setting the franchise record for goals in a single season, Gus Ford continued his scoring ways. Midway through the first period, Ford found yet another John Buttitta pass in the high slot and rifled it past goaltender Trevor Babin for the 1-0 lead. Minutes later, defenseman Mark Kompain found himself in the penalty box for elbowing. On the ensuing penalty kill, Buttitta and Jacob Schnapp took the attack in the opposite direction. On a 2-on-1, Buttitta slid the puck to Schnapp on the right side for the tap-in. The Thunderbirds skated into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead and 21-15 lead on the shot board.

Brandon Lucchesi benefitted from some confusion in front of Chris Paulin to begin the second period, cutting the lead in half. Delaware’s powerplay woes continued in the middle frame, as Tommy Cardinal buried yet another shorthanded 2-on-1 for the Thunderbrids. The goal brought the score to 3-1, and the weekend shorthanded goal tally to three. John Buttitta continued his special teams prowess near the end of the period, but this time in a more conventional way. On the powerplay, Buttitta found the loose puck after a Marvin Powell shot was partially blocked, depositing it for the 4-1 lead. Shayne Morrisey found the back of the net for the Thunder at the end of the period, but Carolina took yet another two-goal lead into the second intermission.

The Thunder showed some strong pushback in the third period, scoring the first goal and bringing the deficit to 4-3. After the goal was scored by Nikita Andrusenko, the Thunder continued to pepper Chris Paulin, who was making his second consecutive start. Gus Ford capped the night off with some more magic, giving the Thunderbirds their 5-3 lead late in the third period. Skating the puck from the top of the Carolina zone, ford danced around Kyle Stevens at center, split Alex Basey and Charlie Bedard on his way to the net, and beat Trevor Babin between the legs on his backhand. Ford’s 32nd of the season was the exclamation point on another goal-filled night for Carolina.

Carolina’s victory ties them in points with Binghamton (71), and sets up an important chance to close out the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Ford’s two points bring him further up the single-season points list. At 66, he is three points behind Petr Panacek’s 69 points in 2019-2020. Ford and the Thunderbirds do battle in Delaware for the final time this season at 3:00pm on Sunday afternoon.