Thunderbirds deliver knockout early, beat Columbus again

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, 2019 Commissioner’ Cup champions and proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, ran away with an 8-3 over the Columbus River Dragons at the Annex on Saturday night.

“I wish they wouldn’t have scored those three goals on us at the end, but a win is a win,” said Thunderbirds head coach Andre Niec through a sly grin.

Carolina roared out of the gates, notching four goals in the opening frame. The Thunderbirds outshot Columbus 20-8 in the first and would put 57 shots on net in the whole game.

“Our guys wanted to send a message,” said Niec.

Jan Krivohlavek opened the scoring on a snapshot and Joe Cangelosi scored another less than two minutes later.

After a break in the action, Nathan Campbell tallied his first of the season and Michael Bunn added another 45 seconds later.

“It felt really good to get that one, kinda gets me going a little bit,” said Campbell who would score another goal in the second period.

The second started off with a bang as Steve MacIntyre made quick work of Nick Wright in an old-fashioned hockey fight. The two teams would clash a minute later in an altercation that saw Brant Sherwood and Dominik Fejt ejected.

“Nick Wright was chirping last night,” grinned Niec, “and he got his chance to go up against a real heavyweight tonight and he lost the battle.”

The offense didn’t stop for Carolina as Campbell, Petr Panacek and Jan Salak all scored in the third period giving the Thunderbirds a 7-0 lead. Salak would also score to open the third as well.

The River Dragons showed signs of life in the third period as M.J. Graham, Yianni Liarakos and Mike Chemello all scored. Graham and Chemello’s goals are only the second and third time this season Carolina has allowed a powerplay goal.

The Thunderbirds improve to 9-1-0-0 and increase their lead in the west division to 27 points. Columbus slides to 3-5-1-1 and remains at 12 standings points.

Columbus returns home for three games in four days vs. Mentor.

The Thunderbirds will remain in Winston-Salem to play three games of five straight against the 0-11-0-0 Battle Creek Rumble Bees.

3 Stars

3rd Jan Salak

2nd Petr Panacek

1st Steve MacIntyre