Thunderbirds acquire Koepplinger in trade with Motor City

Winston-Salem, NC – The Carolina Thunderbirds made their first trade of the offseason on Tuesday, receiving Josh Koepplinger from the Motor City Rockers for Tommy Cardinal and future considerations. After skating in 17 ECHL games in 2021-2022, Koepplinger is set to begin his second stint as a Thunderbird this fall.

“Adding a player of his quality and veteran presence to our group is huge,” said Head Coach Garrett Rutledge. “Josh will be a big piece for our group and the Thunderbirds organization. We are thrilled to have him in Carolina.”

Koepplinger split time between the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen and Iowa Heartlanders last season. Prior to arriving in Jacksonville, the Saginaw, MI native notched 14 points in 14 games with the SPHL’s Quad City Storm and Vermillion County Bobcats.

During the shortened 2021 season, Koepplinger provided a punch to an already stacked group of Thunderbirds forwards. In 20 games with Carolina, he tallied eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points. Koepplinger capped that season off with a five-game point streak.

Tommy Cardinal provided a well-rounded game for the Thunderbirds in 2021-2022, scoring 45 points in 49 games and providing physicality up front.

Of Cardinal, Rutledge remarked, “He’s a very good player and person for the Thunderbirds. Tommy has done it all for the team this season. We wish him the best with the Rockers.”

Cardinal was also a part of the Thunderbirds roster in the spring of 2021, skating in 18 games and racking up 24 penalty minutes.

Koepplinger, Rutledge, and the Thunderbirds are set to begin the 2022-2023 season in Port Huron on October 21st. They make their home debut the following weekend, October 29th against Delaware. The Carolina Thunderbirds are 3-1-0-0 in home opening games dating back to their inaugural season.

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