Powerplay goals sink Thunderbirds Friday night, 4-2 against Columbus

Winston-Salem, NC – The Thunderbirds dropped a Friday night matchup against Columbus despite a stellar performance in net in the first of a three-game series. In just their second game in Winston-Salem this season, the River Dragons beat the home Thunderbirds 4-2.

The River Dragons dominated the first period, peppering goaltender Chris Paulin with shots. 26 pucks found their way to Paulin by the end of 20 minutes. Hunter Bersani opened the scoring mid-way through the first period, benefiting from a broken play and sliding the puck past Pauling. That would be the only tally in the first period despite the Columbus onslaught.

The second period began with more offensive chances for the River Dragons, who outshot Carolina 5-1 in the period’s opening minutes. Carolina would then begin to surge, generating more and more chances in the offensive end. They outshot Columbus 17-11 in the period, but the scoreboard wasn’t as kind. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Everett Thompson, and a tripping call to Jiri Pestuka, the Thunderbirds were down two men. Josh Pietrantonio tapped home his 30th of the season from 20 feet, and Adam Vanelli scorched a one-timer over Paulin’s glove just 15 seconds later. Columbus took the 3-0 lead into the second intermission.

Carolina battled hard in the 3rd period, but fell just short of a brilliant comeback. Twelve minutes into the third, Tim Perks chased down a puck along the left-wing boards and threw a pass into the slot for Declan Conway. The Carolina winger would chip the puck past the glove of Bailey MacBurnie for his 10th of the season and the Thunderbirds’ first of the game. Minutes later, Mark Kompain began a Carolina rush with a crisp 60-foot pass to Gus Ford. He would follow it with a short pass in the offensive zone to Dawson Baker, who snapped another shot past MacBurnie. Carolina was unable to secure a third goal with their goaltender pulled, and Hunter Bersani would snag the empty net goal to make it 4-2.

Carolina and Columbus get back to work tomorrow night at 6:05, with the Thunderbirds hosting “Pucks and Paws Night” from the Fairgrounds Annex.