Ford’s hat trick powers Thunderbirds to 6-5 victory
Port Huron, MI – Despite a late third period push by the Prowlers, the Carolina Thunderbirds held on for a 6-5 victory on Friday night. The win featured six total powerplay goals and 81 combined penalty minutes.
Contrary to the previous game, Port Huron would strike first on Friday night to bring a sea of teddy bears cascading from the stands. The Prowlers would cling to that 1-0 lead for about 12 minutes, but George Holt would tie things up for the Thunderbirds at 14:40. Holt picked up a pass from Blake Peavey and buried a laser low to the stick side on Cory Simons. Just two minutes later, Tommy Cardinal’s first goal of the season would leak through Simons and give Carolina a 2-1 lead. Port Huron wouldn’t stay down for long. After Cody Oakes was ejected fro cross checking, Dalton Jay’s powerplay goal would tie the game at 2-2.
The Prowlers came out swinging in the second, with a Zach Fresura wrist shot giving the Port Huron the lead and all the momentum. For Carolina, who outshot the Prowlers 13-10 in the first period, the floodgates began to open. After Zach Sargis collided with Dustin Henning at center ice, Gus Ford was able to pick up the puck for a short breakaway and slip the puck between the legs of Simons. Ford would continue the scoring a few minutes later on a 2-on-1 with Viktor Grebennikov. Finally, Ford completed the natural hat trick by stickhandling through a sea of Prowlers to slide another puck five hole. By the end of the 2nd period, the Thunderbirds held a 6-3 lead, and a considerable amount of confidence.
In the 3rd period, the Prowlers kept the game close thanks to a number of powerplay opportunites. Two powerplay goals by Larri Vartiainen , including one with the goalie pulled, brought the deficit to just one goal. With 30 seconds left, Dalton Jay found himself with time and space on the left wing. In his first FPHL game, Thunderbirds goalie Evan Morrison lunged toward Jay with his goal stick, deflecting aside what could have been the game-tying goal. At the final horn, the Thunderbirds were still standing.
The win gave Carolina the split from McMorran Arena. The weekend series shifts to Winston-Salem on Saturday night, with puck drop set for 6:05. Saturday’s game will also be Carolina’s annual teddy bear toss. All bears thrown on the ice will be collected by the Winston-Salem Fire and Police departments, and given to children in distress.