The Carolina Thunderbirds Announce Roster for 2023-24 Season
For Immediate Release:
The Carolina Thunderbirds, proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, and Head Coach Steve Harrison have announced the roster for the 2023-24 season.
Harrison, who is in his first season with Carolina, brings back 10 players from last year and welcomes eight newcomers to the roster.
The returners are headlined by reigning FPHL MVP, Gus Ford, who begins his third season with the Thunderbirds. Ford returns to Winston-Salem after a franchise record year. The Tillsonburg, Ontario native last season set records for most goals in a season (46), assists (68) and points (114). The forward sits second all-time in franchise history with 198 points, has the most goals in franchise history (89), sits fourth in assists (109) all time, and has the most points per game (1.82).
Joining Ford back in Carolina is the Czech Line, composed of Petr Panacek, Jan Salak and Jiri Pestuka. The three have played the most games in Thunderbirds history with Pestuka leading the pack with 212 games in a Thunderbirds sweater. Salak and Pancek sit second and third respectively with 185 games and 158.
Of the forwards also returning, Dawson Baker joins Jacob Schnapp who both start their third campaigns with the Thunderbirds. Coming off an 80 point season in 2022, Jon Buttitta is the captain for the second straight year.
Three new forwards join the returners including Ohsweken, Ontario native Kessler Skye, who begins his first year in professional hockey after playing at Canisius College. Dominic Dumas, a Boise, Idaho native, joins Nate Keeley to round out the forwards for Harrison.
The Thunderbirds bring back two defensemen from last season with Joe Kennedy and Tucker Firth returning for their second seasons. Kennedy tallied 45 points in 48 games last season while Firth played in all 65 games including the playoffs and accrued 37 points over the season. Joining them are four newcomers, James Farmer, Kody Gibbs, Clay Keeley, Nate’s twin brother, and Kurtis Heggie.
Between the pipes to start off the season is Mississauga, Ontario native Mario Cavaliere and Naples, Florida native Anthony Butrico. Cavaliere a season ago played in 28 games, posting a 21-5 record with a 2.95 goals against average.
The Thunderbirds roster sits at 18 players, 10 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies.
Carolina opens its 2023-24 season on October 27th at 7:30 p.m. against the Danbury Hat Tricks in Danbury, Connecticut. Fans can watch the game live on Thunderbirds TV with coverage starting at 7 p.m.