On a Historic Night Carolina Drops Close Game to Prowlers, 3-1
Winston-Salem, NC –On a Historic Night Carolina Drops Close Game to Prowlers, 3-1.
How It Happened
The Carolina Thunderbirds would host the Port Huron Prowlers on a historic Friday night for the franchise, who earlier in the afternoon broke the Federal Hockey League’s regular-season attendance record. In the 9th meeting of the season, the Prowlers hold a 5-3 advantage, in addition to being 2-0 in Winston-Salem. Entering action on Friday Port Huron sits comfortably in 1st place, with a 29-5-2-2 record and a .816 winning percentage, having won their last 13 games. 5-4-1 in their last 10, and 7-2-1 with Interim Head Coach Scott Brand behind the bench, the Thunderbirds sit in 3rd place. At 19-19-5-2 with a .511 winning percentage, Friday’s action is Brand’s last behind the bench, with Andre Niec slated to return to his normal duties for Saturday’s game.
In net for Port Huron it would be Michael Santaguida getting the start. The Mississauga, Ontario native has a 15-0-1 record with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage, all 3 of which are best in the FHL. For Carolina it would be Christian Pavlas staring in net, sporting a 7-13-1 record with a 4.79 goals against average and a .881 save percentage.
The 1st period would start slowly, but soon both teams would find their legs and the momentum would begin to build. Just 4:23 into the period Thunderbird veteran Steve MacIntyre would be called for interference sending the league’s worst power-play out on the ice. A shot by Paul Arnott would be deflected wide but would settle right onto the stick of Stepan Timofeyev, who would back-hand the puck past Pavlas to take the lead 1-0. The goal it Timofeyev’s 7th of the season and his 1st power-play goal. Carolina would being to take offensive momentum back after the goal however, and after trapping the Prowlers deep in their own end for an extended period of time, Carolina would get their 1st chance on the power-play when at 13:23 Nathan Robson would be called for a clipping minor penalty. On the power-play the Thunderbirds would keep the puck in the offensive zone but be contained by the league-best penalty kill until Ray Boudiette would find Steve MacIntyre open at the blue line. MacIntyre’s shot would deflect off a few bodies on the way and pop up into the air, floating it’s way past Santaguida to make it a 1-1 game. Boudiette and Josh Pietrantonio would assist on the goal, which is MacIntyre’s 2nd of the season, both of his goals have come on the power-play this season. Another late penalty on the Prowlers would give the Thunderbirds their 2nd power-play of the game, but the Prowlers would kill it off and the teams would skate tied into the 1st intermission. Carolina would lead in shots 22-10.
In the 2nd period both sides would continue to battle, but special teams would continue to play a major factor in the contest. At 5:15 of the period Alex Vazquez would take a delay of game minor penalty. On the power-play Joe Pace Jr would score just his 2nd goal of the season, beating Pavlas to make it 2-1 Port Huron. Timofeyev and Yianni Liarakos would assist on the goal at 6:52 of the 2nd. Things would soon devolve however when at 16:10 of the period Jay Croop would take a 2-minute minor for tripping and a 2-minute unsportsmanlike conduct. Irate about the calls, Interim head coach Scott Brand would take an additional 2-minute unsportsmanlike penalty, sending the Thunderbirds short-handed for 4 minutes, 2 of which would be 5-on-3. Carolina would kill off the 5-on-3, and with 43 seconds left in the period Timofeyev would draw blood from Pietrantonio’s face with a high-stick and take a double-minor. The teams would skate 2-1 in to the intermission, with 13 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey to start the 3rd period, followed by a 3:03 Thunderbirds power-play. The teams would tie in shots with 9 each in the period, with Carolina still leading 31-19 on the shot clock.
In the 3rd the urgency from Carolina would increase as they would try to tie the game. Despite an early power-play opportunity for 3:03, the Prowler defense was too much for the Thunderbirds. Continuing to pressure the Thunderbirds generated strong offensive chances but were unable to solve Santaguida, and late in the contest Carolina would decide to pull Pavlas. It would prove to be the last nail in the coffin for Carolina. As a result of a miscommunication Pavlas was halfway to the Thunderbird bench when Prowler defenseman Josh Colten came racing in one-on-one with control of the puck. He would shuffle it home at 18:45 of the period to seal the victory.
In the win Santaguida stopped 39 of 40, while Pavlas would back-stop 20 of 23.
The attendance for the game breaks the Federal Hockey League’s record for the highest attendance in a regular season. Carolina now holds the record with 52,111 and 6 home games remaining.
Steve MacIntyre’s 1st period power-play goal is his 2nd of the season, both goals have come on the power-play this season.
The Thunderbirds will skate Saturday March 3rd at 6:05 pm, with the doors of the Annex open at 5:05 pm. It’s “Czech Night” welcoming back Head Coach Andre Niec from suspension. 3 lucky fans will take home a “Check” of their own, each period the Thunderbirds will giveaway a cash prize to a lucky fan. For more information about the Thunderbirds please call 336-774-GOAL(4625) or log on to www.carolinathunderbirds.com