High-Scoring Affair Sees Carolina Take The Weekend Series Against Elmira

Elmira, NY - The Carolina Thunderbirds skated away with another win in a high-intensity game at First Arena on Saturday night, beating the Elmira Enforcers 6-4.

It took almost the entire first period but Carolina opened the scoring through Michael Bunn whistling a shot over the glove hand of Troy Passingham through a defender's legs and the Thunderbirds had a 1-0 lead heading into the first period locker room.

While that might have been the only scoring of the first period, the talking points of the first period were plentiful. Elmira thought they had a goal about a minute before Bunn's tally when Ahmed Mahfouz rang one off the far post past Christian Pavlas and though he celebrated like he scored (and the referee initially pointed from center ice for the goal) a consultation with the linesmen correctly took the goal off the board. Video replay in Elmira confirmed this point, though video review for overturning a call is not permitted by the FHL.

Also in the first, Elmira forward Brandon Vuic was ejected for verbal abuse of officials picking up a game misconduct after an altercation with Mike Baker. Baker was not assessed a penalty on the play.

Moving on to the second period the goal scoring picked up in bunches which is atypical for a Thunderbirds-Enforcers game. 38 seconds in to the second Dominik Fejt let a shot go that was deflected by Petr Panacek and skipped like a rock on the ice over the pad of Passingham for an early 2-0 lead for Carolina. The Thunderbirds would then add another from a great inside-out move by Michael Bunn (his 20th of the season) to make it 3-0 Thunderbirds.

Elmira would get themselves on the board with a power play goal from one of the newest Enforcers Gavin Yates. Tic-tac passing from Mitch Atkins and Stepan Timofeyev set up the goal for Yates to slam in at the side of the net on the power play.

The teams would trade goals again in the dying minutes of the second period. First, after Mitch Atkins stumbled at the left point on the power play, Chase Fallis took the puck from center and was in all alone on Passingham. A forehand-backhand deke opened up the 5-hole and Fallis slid it home for the shorthanded goal. Carolina's momentum heading towards the intermission would be neutralized however by Gavin Yates' second of the game set up by a spinning backhand pass by Ahmed Mahfouz. The goal came with 12 seconds left in the period.

One other talking point of the second period was a fight that took place between Ahmed Mahfouz and Karel Drahorad. Drahorad lined up Gavin Yates for a clean should-to-shoulder hit but was made to answer by Mahfouz jumping on him in the defensive zone. The two squared up for a bit and traded blows until one landed from Mahfouz that sent Drahorad to the ice. Drahorad was not seen the rest of the game after that fight.

With a 4-2 score heading into the third period and the news of Drahorad missing the rest of the game on the bench Carolina came out wheeling against a desperate Elmira team. It took almost 14 minutes but Josh Pietrantonio would give Carolina another three-goal lead with a shot and follow-up rebound shot past the blocker of Passingham.

With over five minutes left in the third and a three-goal deficit, Elmira head coach Brent Clarke opted to pull the netminder in hopes to spark his team. This would backfire as Ray Boudiette would send in his first as a Thunderbird this season 32 seconds after the Pietrantonio goal.

The scoreline at that point read 6-2 and the game started to get a little chippy. Carolina took a few penalties late that resulted in two Elmira goals. The first a tap-in off a rebound given up by Pavlas side of the net sent in by Mahfouz and then at the horn Mitch Atkins deflected one past Pavlas from a side-angle shot off the stick of Cameron Yarwood.

With 39 seconds to go Gavin Yates had a bid for the hat trick with a penalty shot after Michael Bunn picked up a delay of game penalty with under two minutes to play. Yates rang the cross bar on the shot.

6-4 was the final score as Carolina picked up their 42nd win on the year, the same two teams meet one more time at First Arena Sunday afternoon at 4:05.

Christian Pavlas stopped 23 of 27 shots in the win, Troy Passingham takes the loss stopping 19 of 25 shots he saw while in net.

Three Stars of the Game (again chosen by Carolina broadcast, not announced in arena)

Michael Bunn
Chase Fallis
Ahmed Mahfouz (ELM)