Thunderbirds close weekend with thrilling OT victory

Harrington, DE – In a back-and-forth 8-7 overtime slugfest, the Carolina Thunderbirds defeated the Delaware Thunder for their third win of the weekend. Carolina battled back despite trailing for nearly 40 minutes of the game.

The Thunderbirds scored the first goal in weekend’s first two games, and Jacob Schnapp made sure Sunday was no different. Skating down the left wing, Schnapp just flipped the puck towards the net. Goaltender Greg Harney whiffed on the shot, and Schnapp’s 12th of the season lit the lamp for the Thunderbirds. Charlie Bedard evened things up eight minutes later, whipping a shot from the right-wing circle through traffic and over the shoulder of Chris Paulin. Shortly after, Nikita Andrusenko jammed home a loose puck on top of the blue paint, giving Delaware a 2-1 lead for the second time that weekend.

Andrusenko continued the Delaware blitz early in the second period, receiving a pass from Ryan Marker and sliding it around Chris Paulin for the 3-1 lead. A Tommy Cardinal powerplay goal began a game-long trend of Carolina crawling to within a goal of the Thunder, but being unable to tie the game. Joe Deveny followed Cardinal’s goal just one minute later, stretching the game to 4-2. Jacob Schnapp scored his fourth goal of the weekend just 30 seconds later, pulling the puck out of a massive goalmouth scramble and flicking it upstairs on Harney to make it 4-3.

After the goal, Schnapp took a check to the head from Alex Soucy. The Delaware defenseman was ejected from the game, and the Thunderbirds were on a five-minute powerplay. Rather than tie the game, Carolina surrendered a shorthanded goal to Dan Cangelosi, widening the gap to two goals once again.

To end the period, Dawson Baker picked up a Gus Ford pass in the low slot and buried it past a sprawled-out Greg Harney. The Thunderbirds had closed the gap yet again, entering the second intermission down 5-4.

Brandon Lucchesi got the Thunder yet another two-goal lead to open the third period, banking the puck off of Carolina defenseman Jarett Meyer and into the back of the net. It only took ten seconds after the Lucchesi goal for the Thunderbirds to respond yet again. Declan Conway snapped a five-game goal draught, slipping past a defenseman along the wall and firing a shot just inside the left circle. Shayne Morrisey then continued the ping-pong play, capitalizing on yet another net-front scramble to make it a 7-5 Delaware lead. Conway brought the Thunderbirds back from the edge of defeat with a pair of goals just minutes apart. He began with another wrister from the right circle and completed the comeback by sweeping home a John Buttitta pass just atop the blue paint. Not only did the Thunderbirds force overtime, but they carried a powerplay into it after Kyle Stevens tripped Viktor Grebennikov late in regulation.

Dawson Baker opened the weekend’s scoring with a goal in Friday’s first period and bookended it with the overtime winner on Sunday night. After playing catch with Gus Ford high in the zone, Baker reeled in a pass from John Buttitta, and snapped a shot past Greg Harney’s blocker to end the game.

The Thunderbirds collected eight of a possible nine points against the Thunder, and look to carry that momentum into next weekend’s homestand against Port Huron. Puck drop on March 17th against the Prowlers is set for 7:05pm from the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex.