T-Birds Score Early, Hold on to Beat Danville 3-2

Winston-Salem, NC –T-Birds Score Early, Hold on to Beat Danville 3-2. 

How It Happened

In the 14th meeting of the season between the Thunderbirds and Dashers the familiar foes would clash from the David S. Palmer Arena just over the Eastern Illinois border. Both teams entered action secure in a playoff spot, with positioning and the 1st round playoff opponent now on the line. In 4th place the Dashers are just a few games behind Carolina for the 3rd spot in the Federal Hockey League standings.

In net for Carolina it would be Christian Pavlas getting the nod, the Slovakian net-minder enters action with a 7-14-1 record alongside a 4.71 goals-against average and a .881 save percentage. Opposite him it would be Matt Kaludis for the Dashers. Kaludis’ 3 shutouts lead the league, and the former Watertown Wolf has a 12-13-4 record wit ha 3.54 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.

A playoff-type intensity would show through early into the contest when just 1:58 into the period Jimmy Soper of the Dashers and Stanislav Vlasov of the Thunderbirds would drop the gloves for a long tilt. Shortly afterwards the Dashers would have a chance to flex their special team’s muscles when at 2:23 of the frame Joe Cangelosi would take a hooking minor penalty. Carolina would kill off the penalty and attack in the other direction. Michael Bunn would wire a shot past Matt Kaludis to make it 1-0 Carolina. Jay Kenney and Jay Croop would assist on Bunn’s team-leading 22nd goal of the season, the points are the 7th and 28th for Kenney and Croop respectively. Another penalty would send the Thunderbirds back on the penalty-kill when at 8:38 Rick O’Connor would take a hooking minor of his own. Chase Fallis would make a strong move and steal the puck in the neutral zone and find Bunn in the offensive zone. A stick move would take Bunn past the stationary Dasher defense and put him all alone in the slot. Bunn would beat Kaludis again to make it 2-0 Carolina on the short-handed goal, Bunn’s 1st such of the season. Fallis’ assist is his 13th of the season, and Bunn’s 2nd goal of the game is his 23rd of the season. The goal would prompt a change from the Danville bench, ending Kaludis’ night and bringing in Aaron Taylor. The Dashers would increase the offensive pressure and it would culminate in a blast by Aaron Atwell from the point that would find it’s way past Pavlas to cut the Thunderbird lead in half. Justin Levac and Justin Brausen would assist on the goal scored with just 45 seconds remaining in the period. Headed into the intermission the score held at 2-1 Carolina, who trailed in shots 12-10 after 20 minutes of play.

In the 2nd both teams would continue to pepper each goaltender with shots, combining for 20 in the period. Keeping with the playoff-like intensity both teams were also very active blocking shots and clogging the shooting lanes. Carolina would get their 1st power-play chance of the game when at 8:58 of the frame Justin Brausen would take an interference minor, but his Dasher squad would be up to the task. After the penalty-kill the Dashers would have a period of continuous offensive pressure, but Carolina would soon turn the tables. With close to 8 minutes left in the 2nd Carolina would spend long stretches of time in the offensive zone, and the pressure would culminate at 18:06 of the period. A poke-check in the neutral ice would send Carolina in on a 3-on-1 break-away with Jay Croop handling the puck. With two other Thunderbirds crashing towards either side of the net, Croop would toe-drag the puck past the lone Dasher defender and beat Taylor to give Carolina a 2-goal lead once again. Michael Bunn would get his 3rd point of the game with a primary assist on the poke-check, with Alex Vazquez getting credit for the secondary assist. Carolina would head into the 2nd intermission leading 3-1, in addition to being on top in the shot category 22-20.

The Jay Croop goal would prove to be important in the contest, as the Dashers would create a tremendous amount of offensive pressure striving to tie the game. The physicality of the contest would continue, seeing multiple pairs of players sent off for coincidental minors. Late in the contest the Dashers would pull Aaron Taylor for the extra attacker, and during that time Rick O’Connor would take an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Up 6-on-4 the Dashers Ben Boukal would find the back of the net to make it a 1 goal contest, 3-2. Jimmy Soper and Mike Dolman would assist on the goal at 19:11 of the period. With the face-off at center ice the Dashers were forced to put Taylor back in the net, and Carolina would spend the rest of the game deep in the Danville zone, skating to a 3-2 win.

In the loss Matt Kaludis would stop 4 of 6, and in relief for him Aaron Taylor would stop 24 of 25. In the win Christian Pavlas would stop 30 of 32.

Notable Stats

Jay Croop’s 2nd period goal is his 14th of the season, 2nd point of the game, and his 2nd game-winning goal.

Michael Bunn’s 2 goals give him 23 on the season, the most on the team. As well his short-handed goal makes him now the only active Thunderbird other than Tom Kilgore with a short-handed tally.


What’s Next

The Thunderbirds weekend continues back in Winston-Salem as Carolina will play host to Danville in a home-and-home series. Puck drop for “St. Hattrick’s Night” is 6:05 pm with the doors of the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex opening one hour early. For more information about the Thunderbirds please call 336-774-GOAL(4625) or log on to www.carolinathunderbirds.com