Thunderbirds clobber Mentor 7-2

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, beat the Mentor Ice Breakers 7-2 on Saturday night at the Annex.

“The win is great,” said head coach Andre Niec, “but now I have to regroup and find a way to get enough players for tomorrow.”

Niec’s issue stems to the final play of the game where Mentor defenseman Brody Duncan collected the puck after a faceoff win and intentionally fired a slapshot into the Carolina bench that struck Jan Krivohlavek. As the horn sounded, a melee erupted between the two benches just inside the Carolina attacking blue line.

“It’s gonna be fiery tomorrow for sure,” said Carolina’s George Holt.

The Thunderbirds struck with 8:31 remaining in the first period when Jo Osaka beat Frankie McClendon on a seeing-eye wrist shot. Osaka would go on to score a natural hat trick and would be named the game’s first star.

“This organization did so much for me when I was injured and I felt like I had to do something to make it even,” said Osaka.

The Japanese-born Osaka now has five goals on the weekend.

However, twice Mentor would claw back. 22 seconds after the opening goal, Steven Fowler buried a rebound by Jake Mullen, breaking Mullen’s shutout streak at 132:59.

Duncan drove the net and scored on a short-side backhand to tie the game at two.

Osaka’s third goal, a short-handed marker, would prove to be the game winner.

“We’re just so fast and explosive. My guys are really easy to play with,” said Osaka.

Carolina also had a big game from Jan Salak who scored driving down the right wing midway through the second period. Salak added his team leading 18th goal of the season in the third.

Daniel Martin tallied in the third and so would Brendan Logan who buried a Martin pass to score his first FPHL goal.

The Thunderbirds outshot Mentor 41-19 over the course of the game and outscored the Ice Breakers in every individual period. Now, Carolina has beaten Mentor 16 straight times and will go for their 18th all-time victory against the Ice Breakers on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. from the Civic Ice Arena in Mentor.