Thunderbirds burn River Dragons in thriller

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, 2019 Commissioner’s Cup champions and proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, overcame a three-goal, first period deficit to defeat the Columbus River Dragons 8-6.

“It’s a big game for us to win,” said general manager Jimmy Milliken, “It felt like we gave it up and took it right back.”

The Thunderbirds stumbled out of the gate giving up four goals on 12 shots.

Columbus got a pair of markers from Mike Chemello and a goal apiece from Yianni Liarakos and CJ Hayes.

After Michael Bunn fought CJ Hayes, Carolina used the spark of momentum to grab one goal from Jay Kenney. Kenney has scored his only two goals of the season in the last two games.

The Thunderbirds would answer in the second period though, notching three goals in the middle stanza.

Daniel Martin scored just shy of the midway point of the period on a one-timer and Michael Bunn would follow it with one of his pair of goals on the evening.

Jake Howie scored on a beautiful move to notch a shorthanded goal and send Columbus up two again.

However, with under two minutes to go, Jan Krivohlavek buried a rebound to make it 5-4 heading into the third.

Anton Lennartsson blasted a one-timer by Patrik Polivka just 51 seconds in the third period to make it 6-4, but the Thunderbirds would reel off four unanswered goals.

Petr Panacek started the scoring and Michael Bunn tied the game shortly after.

At 9:53 into the third period, Daniel Klinecky notched what would stand as the game winner on a feed from Michael Bunn.

Nathan Campbell added an insurance marker on a splendid move.

The Thunderbirds are now 3-0 vs. Columbus and have scored eight goals in each of their last two games vs. the River Dragons.

Carolina will advance to 20 wins on the season and will fact the top-of-the-east Danbury Hat Tricks on Friday from Bloomington, Ill.