Ford, Czech Line Carry Carolina to Game 1 Win
Gus Ford, along with multiple contributions from the Czech Line and more stalwart goaltending from Greg Hussey were the perfect mix for a 6-2 Carolina Thunderbirds victory in Game 1 of the 2023 Commissioner's Cup Final.
The Danbury Hat Tricks controlled much of the pace the first half of the 1st period, taking a 1-0 lead on a Brendan Sheehan goal.
A three minute stretch in the opening frame turned the entire game on its head.
Ford found a hole between the shoulder of Brian Wilson and the crossbar and put home one of the most wicked wrist shots in recent memory at 16:27 of the first to tie the game at 1. The league MVP wasn't done there. Ford sniped home another just a minute and 22 seconds later to give the Thunderbirds the lead for good.
The Czech line controlled possession the entire final minute of the first, and Petr Panacek jammed home his 8th goal of the playoffs with just 2.8 seconds remaining in the opening period to make it 3-1 Thunderbirds. It was a backbreaking goal for Danbury, and Carolina never looked back.
The Hat Tricks made pushes throughout the remaining 40 minutes of play, but Greg Hussey again stood tall in goal for the Thunderbirds stopping 39 of 41 Danbury shots.
Jan Salak continued Carolina's scoring putting home a wrist shot from the high slot in the second. Less than three minutes later, Jiri Pestuka gloved down a pop fly in the high slot and sniped the puck home to put the Thunderbirds ahead 5-2. A late empty netter from Lucas Rowe sealed the deal.
The Thunderbirds take a 1-0 lead in the series into the final home game of the season tomorrow night. Puck drop is set for 6:05 and tickets are available at carolinathunderbirds.com and the Annex Box Office.