Penalty kill shines in 2-1 win over Mentor

MENTOR, Ohio- The Carolina Thunderbirds, 2019 Commissioner’s Cup champions and proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, took down the Mentor Ice Breakers 2-1 from the Mentor Civic Ice Arena on Saturday night.

“I’m happy for the six points,” said head coach Andre Niec, “but we’re still a long way from playing good hockey.”

Carolina opened the scoring on Vincent D’Andrea’s first goal of the season at the 15:40 mark of the first period, set up by Michael Bunn. Bunn now has points in each of his last four games.

The second period was full of opportunities for Carolina, including 44 seconds of 5-on-3 powerplay time, but Austyn Roudebush stood tall.

Finally, with 1:15 to go in the second, Daniel Martin buried a feed from Jan Salak to notch his tenth goal of the season.

Martin’s goal set up Carolina with a two-goal lead going into the third period. Carolina is now 16-0 when entering the third period with the lead this season, and remains undefeated on the road.

Declan Conway scored his 20th of the year off of a wraparound in a 4-on-4 situation for the Ice Breakers. Conway entered the weekend as the league’s leading goal-scorer.

Things slowed to snail’s pace as Carolina was whistled for five penalties in the third period, including a bench minor and ejection for head coach Andre Niec.

The Thunderbirds penalty kill remained perfect on the evening though going 9/9.

“In order to win games you need to have the best penalty kill in the league,” said Niec, “but I don’t want to be lucky anymore. We’ve got to play better.”

Patrik Polivka was sterling stopping 23-of-24 shots and earning his sixth win to improve to 6-0 this season.

Carolina advances to 17-1-0-1 on the season while Mentor falls to 11-9-0-0. With the win, Carolina becomes the first team to eclipse 50 points and remains atop the FPHL with 52.

The Thunderbirds will enjoy a three-game homestand next weekend and into Dec. 31 as they face Battle Creek on Dec. 27 and 28 and Columbus on the final day of the calendar year.

Single-game tickets are available via the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds box office or by using Ticketmaster.