Thunderbirds Dominate Prowlers at Home 4-1
Winston-Salem, NC –Thunderbirds Dominate Prowlers at Home 4-1.
How It Happened
In the 2nd to last game of the Federal Hockey League’s regular season the Carolina Thunderbirds would play host to the Port Huron Prowlers. Port Huron holds an 8-4 season series advantage over Carolina, but entering action on Friday night Port Huron was coming off a loss for only the 2nd time this calendar year. A 4-1 Thunderbird victory last Saturday night would end the Prowlers winning streak and prevent the Prowlers from becoming the winningest regular season franchise in FHL history.
In net for the Prowlers they would start Cory Simon, who sports a 10-1 record alongside a 2.23 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage. Carolina would start Christian Pavlas, who is now 7-5-1 since joining Carolina and has a 3.36 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage since coming to Carolina in a trade with the North Shore Knights.
Special teams would have a big impact in the 3rd period, but Carolina would be the only team to capitalize. After a Steve MacIntyre tripping minor-penalty at 6:10 of the period the Thunderbirds would be on the penalty-kill. After a turn-over in the offensive zone, the Prowler defense would give Alex Vazquez time and space to attack, and he would make the most of it. Wiring the puck over the shoulder of Simons, his short-handed goal is his 1st of the season. Josh Pietrantonio and Justin Blaszak would assist on the goal which made it 1-0 Carolina. A hard hit by MacIntyre along the wall would lay Nathan Robson low and send him to the locker room early. MacIntyre would be assessed a head contact penalty and ejected from the game, but not before he would drop the gloves with Edgars Ozolins. A 5-minute power-play for the Prowlers would be derailed when at 9:24 of the period Josh Colten would take a slashing minor, putting the teams 4-on-4. With plenty of ice to work with the speedy forward turned defenseman CJ Blaszka would race into the offensive zone 2-on-1. He would slide a pass through the defenseman’s legs and find Tom Kilgore who would tap the puck into the net. The shot would ring off the bottom bar of the goal and straight out, and after a discussion it would be called a good goal. Tommy Tsicos would get credit for the secondary assist, making it 2-0 Thunderbirds. Carolina would kill off the remaining penalty time and skate into the intermission leading 2-0. Port Huron would lead in shots 12-9.
During the 2nd period the Thunderbirds would spend nearly the first 5 minutes of the period in the offensive zone, out-shooting the Prowlers 7-0. Port Huron would weather the storm, leaning on goaltender Cory Simons to bail them out. At 5:49 of the 2nd Matt Coleman of Port Huron would take a 2-minute holding minor penalty, sending the Thunderbirds on their 1st power-play. The Prowlers league-best penalty-kill would get the job done. Minutes later Edgars Ozolins would head back to the penalty box after sending Thunderbird captain Josh Pietrantonio hard into the boards. Once again, the Prowlers Penalty-Kill would be successful, keeping the score 2-0. Late in the period Prowler captain Joe Pace Jr would take a holding the stick minor penalty, but the 3rd time wouldn’t be the charm for Carolina, and the teams would skate into the locker rooms 2-0 after 2. Carolina would pepper Simons with shots in the period, out-shooting the Prowlers 20-11 in the period for the shot lead of 29-23 after 2 periods of play.
The Thunderbirds would control the pace of play throughout the 3rd period, continuing their offensive dominance. Neither team would take a penalty in the period but would continue to trade offensive chances. Just past the half-way mark of the period Stepan Timofeyev of Port Huron would race in on a break-away, but he would be stopped by Christian Pavlas. Catching the Prowler defense sleeping as Jan Salak would race into the zone, firing a back-hand pass right onto the stick of Joe Cangelosi. Cangelosi would go high on Simons to make it 3-0 Carolina. Port Huron would continue to attack but were not able to generate long stretches of offensive pressure. With less than a minute left Ozolins would find the back of the net after his shot would deflect off two Thunderbirds breaking Pavlas’ shutout bid. The Thunderbirds sticks weren’t done however, as with just 30 seconds remaining Vojtech Zemlicka would be set up in front of the net by Tom Kilgore, making it 4-1. Christian Pavlas would get an assist on the goal as well to go along with the 4-1 victory.
In the win Pavlas would stop 31 of 32, while Simons would stop 43 of 47 in the loss.
Christian Pavlas’ assist in the 3rd period is his 2nd of the season, making him the only Thunderbird goaltender with multiple points.
The 1st period, short-handed goal by Alex Vazquez is his 1st professional goal.
This is the first time the Prowlers have lost 2 games in a row since December 2nd and 3rd. Those losses we’re also at the hands of the Thunderbirds.
What’s Coming Up
On Saturday the Prowlers and Thunderbirds will skate in the final regular season game of the 2017-2018 season. The puck will drop at 6:05 pm, with the doors of the annex again opening one-hour early. It’s “Fan Appreciation Night” presented by WTOB “The Big 980” and the 1st 1000 fans in attendance will get a special Thunderbirds team poster.
The Thunderbirds Coaches show will continue on Tuesday the 10th on WTOB, the flagship station for Thunderbirds Hockey. Tune in with Scott Brand, Al Kessler, and Andre Niec as they break down the regular season and preview the upcoming playoff series.
Wednesday and Thursday, the 11th and 12th of April, the Thunderbirds will be practicing at the Greensboro Ice House. The practices will be open to the public and will run from 10:00 am to 11:15 am each morning.
The Thunderbirds will finish the regular season in 3rd place in the FHL, locking in a 1st round playoff battle against the Watertown Wolves. The series will begin on Friday, April 13th as the higher-seeded Wolves will visit Winston-Salem to take on the Thunderbirds. Tickets are now on sale on Ticketmaster and at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Box Office. Game 1 of the 3-game series will start at 7:35 pm at the Annex, with the doors opening one-hour prior. Afterwards the Thunderbirds will travel north to Watertown for game 2 of the series. The puck will drop on Saturday the 14th at 7:30 pm from the Watertown Municipal Ice Arena and you can hear the Honda of Winston-Salem pre-game show starting at 7:05 pm est on the Thunderbirds Radio Network. If necessary the deciding game 3 will be played Sunday the 15th in Watertown and will be a 4:00 pm puck drop, with the Honda of Winston-Salem pre-game show starting at 3:35 pm.
In addition, season tickets for the 2018-2019 regular season will go on sale on Thursday, April 5th. To reserve your seats for Thunderbirds hockey or for more information, please visit www.carolinathunderbirds.com or call 336-774-GOAL(4625).
Photo Credit-V. Khouri