Ford Out-Hat-Tricks Danbury, Birds Take 2-0 Series Lead
In the final home game of 2022-2023 before a crowd of 2,868 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, Gus Ford put the Carolina Thunderbirds on his back and carried them to a clinical 5-1 win over the Danbury Hat Tricks. With the win, the Thunderbirds take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Commissioner's Cup Final.
Danbury scored first again as they did in Game 1, but just the same Gus Ford had Carolina's full response.
He sniped home the equalizer on the power play with just eight seconds remaining in the opening frame, showing great patience as he sent a wrist shot through a sea of bodies. It was also the second straight night that Danbury surrendered a demoralizing goal in the final ten seconds of the first period.
Ford added another on the power play in nearly identical fashion at the 7:32 mark of the second period. Then in the third, completed a lengthy natural hat trick when he deflected a pass from Joe Kennedy past Brian Wilson at the 6:37 mark of the final frame.
Jiri Pestuka and Viktor Grebennikov each added empty netters to finish off the 5-1 win. Greg Hussey was again great in goal, stopping 29 of 30 Danbury shots and earning third star honors. Ford, of course, earned first star for his hat trick.
The series now heads to Danbury with the Thunderbirds ahead 2 games to none. They can clinch the Commissioner's Cup with a victory Friday night. Game 3 is slated for a 7:30 puck drop from Danbury Ice Arena.