Full Team Effort Lifts Birds Over Dragons
A full team effort from everyone in a Carolina Blackout sweater made the difference in a 4-2 triumph over the Columbus River Dragons in the fifth meeting between the two arch rivals this season.
Mario Cavaliere more than earned first star honors on the night, standing on his head and then some to stop 37 of 39 Columbus shots en route to the win.
After Columbus opened the scoring, Viktor Grebennikov banked a sharp angle shot off River Dragons goaltender Brendan Colgan and into the back of the net to tie the game at 1 midway through the first period.
Columbus edged ahead 2-1 after two periods of play, and controlled most of the possession through the middle frame. The turning point was during that second period, when the Thunderbirds miraculously killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 River Dragon power play. 1:35 seconds of the two man advantage were successfully killed off by a courageous Carolina unit. Shot blocks from Grebennikov, Tucker Firth, Blake Peavey, Jacob Schnapp and others plus marvelous saves by Cavaliere finished off the fantastic kill.
Carolina controlled and dominated possession in the third. John Buttitta deflected home the equalizer just 49 seconds into the final frame. A wicked one-timer from Firth on the power play 11 minutes later gave the Thunderbirds the lead and they never looked back. Gus Ford added his 31st goal of the season on the backhand two minutes after Firth's go ahead and eventual game winning goal to seal the deal
The two rivals tangle again tomorrow night. Puck drop is set for 8:05.