The Great Lakes State Awaits
Winston-Salem, NC – This weekend, Carolina makes its only trip to the state of Michigan this season, squaring off with the Motor City Rockers on Friday evening and the Port Huron Prowlers on Saturday night. Carolina is coming off a split against the Binghamton Black Bears a week ago, dropping game one on Friday night, 2-1, before putting up eight goals on Saturday in an 8-3 victory.
The Thunderbirds roll into Fraser, Michigan on Friday night winners in eight of their last nine contests. Following the 2-1 loss on Friday, Carolina’s offense left no doubts about a response. Only 11 minutes into game two, Carolina already led 4-0 thanks to goals from Jon Buttitta, Joe Kennedy, Nate Keeley and Petr Panacek. In the second period, the Thunderbirds scored three goals in only 30 seconds with Jan Salak, Kennedy and Gus Ford finding the back of the net making it a 7-2 game. The Thunderbirds went on to win 8-3 tying most goals scored in a single game by the team this season.
With a 12-3-0 record to start off the year, that mark is the second best 15-game start in franchise history. The 2018-19 Thunderbirds started the season 14-1-0 on the way to winning the Thunderbirds first Commissioner Cup. The Thunderbirds currently have 32 points on the year, good for second in the Continental division, only trailing the Columbus River Dragons who have 35 points. The Thunderbirds +24 goal differential is second in the league and Carolina has allowed the least number of goals in the league with only 32.
Motor City comes into Friday evening’s matchup on a four-game losing skid allowing five goals in each game. The Rockers are led in net by netminder Trevor Babin, who was named FPHL Goalie of the Month for October/November. Scott Coash leads the Rockers with 19 points on the season, 10 goals and nine assists, while Pavel Svintsov and Brad Reitter both have added 16 points each. The Rockers are good on special teams leading the league on the power play at 29 percent while having the second highest penalty kill rate at 86 percent. With 28 points, Motor City sits in second in the Empire division. This weekend’s matchup is the only meeting between Carolina and Motor City this season.
Port Huron, who Carolina swept in a three-game series two weeks ago, is coming off a sweep of its own against Motor City last weekend. The Prowlers beat Motor City 5-3 at home last Friday before defeating the Rockers, 5-4, last Saturday at Big Boy Arena. With Carolina coming in on Saturday, the Prowlers have Friday evening off. Port Huron is 10 points behind the Thunderbirds with 22 on the year in third in the Continental division. Brandon Picard continues to pace Port Huron with 19 points, 10 goals and nine assists.
Game one in Michigan between Carolina and Motor City is set for 7:35 p.m. on Friday evening from Big Boy Arena in Fraser while game two against Port Huron is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. from McMorran Arena in Port Huron. Fans can find both games on Thunderbirds TV and on WTOB 980 AM locally with Brendan Reilly bringing pregame coverage starting 30 minutes before puck drop. Following the weekend in Michigan, Carolina plays one more road game next Friday against Blue Ridge in Wytheville before returning home on December 23rd to face Columbus.