Thunderbirds Allow a Hat-Trick of Short-Handed Goals, Lose to Cornwall 6-5
Winston-Salem, NC –Thunderbirds Allow a Hat-Trick of Short-Handed Goals, Lose to Cornwall 6-5.
How It Happened
For the first time this season the first-place team in the Federal Hockey League lined up to do battle with the newest franchise. On Friday night the Thunderbirds played host to the Cornwall Nationals. Hailing from Cornwall, Ontario, the Nationals entered action sporting a record of 10 wins, 3 losses, and 2 overtime losses, for a total of 32 points and a .711 winning percentage. The Thunderbirds traveled back home after dropping a road game to the Dashers 5-4 on Thursday night, and now have a record of 10 wins, 8 losses, 2 overtime wins, and 1 overtime loss. Their .556 winning percentage has them in 4th place in the league standings, despite a league-leading 35 points. The Thunderbirds are 5 and 5 in their last 10, but are 6-1 in the confines of the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. Cornwall, in 1st place, is 7-3 in their last 10. On the road the Nationals are an even .500, 4-4 when travelling. The Nationals’ roster features league-leading scorer Maxime Guyon, who is also 1st in the league with 5 game-winning goals, but also FHL iron-man Ahmed Mahfouz, who is rated a league-best +26.
Starting in net for the Nationals it would be Sebastien Dube-Rochon, who’s 7 wins ties him for most in the league. He also sports 3 regulation and 2 overtime losses, alongside a 3rd best 3.67 goals-against average and a.899 save percentage. For Carolina it would be Cary Byron getting the nod in between the pipes. Byron has a 4-4 record this year, with a 4.06 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage.
It would be Carolina who would break through first in the opening period. Stanislav Vlasov would hammer a shot from the near point that would hit traffic in front and bounce in past Rochon to make it 1-0 Carolina. The goal would be assisted by Ryan Rotondi and Ian Hoang. Just under 2 minutes later however a net-mouth scramble would see the puck bounce straight from a Thunderbirds’ defenseman right onto the stick of Mahfouz, who would slide the rubber past Byron to tie the game at 1. Ondrej Misovic and Eric Witzel would get credit on the assists. Misovic would be called for hooking at 10:29 of the 1st, but despite a handful of Thunderbirds chances, it would be the Nationals who would find the twine. With just a few seconds left in the penalty Guyon would steal the puck and send it over to Tom Tsicos, who would put it over Byron’s shoulder to take the lead. An issue with the ice would end the period prematurely, adding 5:45 to the 2nd period. Carolina held a 10-6 shot lead at the intermission, but would trail 2-1.
The remaider of the 1st period would be added on to the 2nd period, and played the next day due to the improved ice conditions. The Thunderbirds would tally first to tie the game after a Martin Trudman interference penalty. Michael Bunn would score, assisted by Vlasov and Yuto Osawa. The Nationals would respond with their 2nd short-handed goal of the game, when Guyon would beat Byron again, assisted by Mahfouz. It would be 3-2 Cornwall at the end of the 1st.
In the 2nd period the goals would come fast and furious. Chase Fallis would score for Carolina at 2:14 of the period, Cary Byron and Ryan Rotondi with the assists, tying the game at 3. Jiri Pestuka would score on a rocket shot to make it 4-3 Thunderbirds, but it wouldn’t take long for Cornwall to respond. Daniel Martin would race down the near wing and beat Byron short side to tie the game. Another short-handed goal, and this time it was Tsicos repeating, Mahfouz and Bakker with the assists at 16:21 of the period. The teams would skate into the intermission with a 5-4 Cornwall lead, and the shots 24-17 Carolina.
The power-play would be the theme of the 3rd period, both teams would add a power-play goal. It would be Cornwall scoring first when Justin Portillo tapped home the puck past Byron to make it a 6-4 Cornwall lead, Brandon Gilmour and Martin Trudman with the assists. The Thunderbrids would respond just a few minutes late when Jiri Pestuka would score a power-play goal, Yuto Osawa and Michael Bunn with the assists. A late 5 minute Cornwall power-play would ice the game in their favor, 6-5.
In the loss Carey Byron would make 28 saves on 34 shots, while Rochon would stop 36 of 41 in the win.
The Thunderbirds allowed 3 short-handed goals in the contest, which doubles their total allowed for the season so far.
Cornwall’s Maxime Guyon continues his scoring ways, with a goal and an assist he now has a league- leading 40 points on the season.
Back in Action
The Thunderbirds will return home to continue the three-game set against the Cornwall Nationals. Saturday and Sunday, December 30 and 31. Saturday’s game is Star Wars Night, and the puck will drop at 6:05 pm. Sunday’s New Years’ Eve game will begin at 8:35 pm, with festivities to follow the game. For tickets and more information please visit www.carolinathunderbirds.com or call 336-774-GOAL(4625).