Koepplinger Wins it for Carolina in Overtime, 2-1
Winston-Salem, NC – After trailing for the first 50 minutes, Josh Koepplinger found a goal in the 3rd period to tie the game and then win it for the Carolina Thunderbirds, 2-1, in overtime against the Port Huron Prowlers Friday night at the Annex.
Port Huron (10-10-4) came out fast putting pressure on Carolina (18-5-0) early, and towards the end of the 1st period, Austin Fetterly beat Thunderbirds goalie Frankie McClendon giving the visitors the 1-0 advantage heading to the 1st intermission.
In the 2nd period, both netminders continued to shine. McClendon and Port Huron goalie, Makar Sokolov, put on a show in the middle 20 minutes, going save-for-save, as the Thunderbirds could not beat Sokolov and went to the 3rd period trailing, 1-0.
After an early penalty against Carolina and spending most of the time in its own defensive zone, with nearly nine minutes remaining, Josh Koepplinger battled to the left of the net and scored on a rebound chance, tying the game at one with 9:03 remaining. The Thunderbirds had multiple chances late but could not find a winner in regulation and the two sides went to overtime for the second time this season.
With just over two minutes gone in overtime, Koepplinger, who was playing in only his third game this season, walked up the far side of the ice and ripped a snapshot past Sokolov sending the Annex into a frenzy and taking a 2-1 victory in overtime.
In the win, Gus Ford was named the 3rd star with an assist while Frankie McClendon picked up 2nd star honors saving 40 out of 41 shots on the night. Koepplinger was named 1st star with the two goals for the Thunderbirds.
Carolina and Port Huron meet for the final time in the regular season on Saturday. Puck drop is slated for 6:05 p.m. from Winston-Salem.