Paulin, Hunt guide Thunderbirds to second straight win

Winston-Salem, NC— In front of a home crowd, the Carolina Thunderbirds took down the Danbury Hat Tricks 6-3 on Friday night. The win comes as Carolina’s second in a row, and first on home ice since October 30th.

The Thunderbirds entered the game bolstered by offensive additions to the roster. Devin Warfield and Scotty Donahue made their Thunderbirds debut, and Jacob Schnapp made his home debut after scoring two on the road. In the first period, the Thunderbirds powerplay went straight to work. With Steve Brown in the box for delay of game, Devin Warfield scored his first goal as a Thunderbirds at 12:35. Just two minutes later, Jacob Schnapp would bang home a powerplay goal from the top of the crease for his third of the season. Cory Anderson would quickly answer for the Hat Tricks, snapping his 8th goal of the season past the glove of Nick Modica.

Danbury continued their scoring ways early in the second period. Gordy Bonnel’s 4th goal of the season tied the game at 2-2. Carolina’s Chris Hunt would give his team a brief lead a few minutes later, but Bonnel’s second of the period would tie things again, 3-3. Just seconds later, Thunderbirds goaltender Nick Modica was injured while making a pad save. The injury rendered Modica unable to leave the ice under his own power, and Chris Paulin was forced to enter the game. He made all eight saves to finish the period.

The Thunderbirds thought they had a powerplay goal 11 minutes into the period, but the officials concluded that the play had been blown dead before a net-mouth scramble had pushed the puck over the goal line. Almost immediately after the powerplay expired, John Buttitta deflected a Vaughn Clouston wrist shot to put Carolina ahead 4-3. Just 26 seconds later, Chris Hunt would drive the net and slide the puck around Frankie McClendon for his second of the game.

Chris Paulin continued to hold down the fort for Carolina during a back and forth third period. On the play of his goaltender, Head Coach Garrett Rutledge remarked, “Chris Paulin is a total pro in the way that he prepares for the game. He prepares like it’s going to be his start, he’s always ready to roll. I had no worries when he had to go in.” Paulin finished the night by stopping all 17 shots sent his way. Cody Oakes would add an empty net goal, his first as a Thunderbird, to make it 6-3.

Carolina has now won back-to-back games for the first time since October 29th and 30th. Coach Rutledge continued, “Wednesday night didn’t mean anything if we don’t come back here and win tonight. Now we have two under our belt, we can sweep the weekend and things start to look up.” The Thunderbirds and Hat Tricks go back to work tomorrow night at 6:05 from Winston-Salem.