Thunderbirds Down Short-Handed Dashers 4-2

Winston-Salem, NC –Thunderbirds Down Short-Handed Dashers 4-2. 

How It Happened

It would be another close and thrilling game between the Carolina Thunderbirds and the Danville Dashers on Friday night, with the Deer earning a win in their last home game of the regular season 4-3. Saturday night the teams would face off for the 2nd to last time in the regular season, this time at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. Danville would arrive with a shorter bench, lacking some of it’s more impactful role players.

In net for Carolina Kelly Curl would get the start, the local product has a 7-5-0 record with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. For Danville they would go with Matt Kaludis, who was pulled on Friday night after allowing 2 goals on 6 shots just over 4 minutes into the 1st period. Kaludis, the former Watertown Wolf, has a 12-13-4 record alongside a 3.66 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. He also has 3 shutouts which lead the Federal Hockey League.

In the 1st period a depleted Dasher roster would do a good job of holding off the Thunderbirds offense through the period. The rough stuff would continue as it would during nearly every game played between these two teams this season. A pair of fights in the period would be the only penalties other than a delay of game minor taken by Craig Skudalski at 2:12 of the period. The Dashers would kill off the penalty, and the teams would skate scoreless into the intermission with the shots 13-5 in favor of Carolina.

During the 2nd both teams would come out with a higher level of intensity and like a pair of heavyweight prize-fighters, trade body blows. At 7:37 of the period, after a long stint of end to end action with few whistles, Rick O’Connor would break through and tap the puck past Matt Kaludis to make it a 1-0 game. CJ Blaszka would assist on the goal, O’Connor’s 5th of the season. Carolina would not be done however, and at 15:19 Tom Kilgore would wind his way out of the far-side corner and into the high slot. He would stride past a Dasher defender and wire a shot off the post and in past Kaludis, 2-0 Carolina. Artur Drindrozhik and Jason Berube would assist on the goal, Kilgore’s 15th of the season. Drindrozhik would take a hooking minor just 40 seconds later, but Carolina would kill off the penalty. The teams would skate into the 2nd intermission with the score at 2-0 Carolina, who were out-shooting the dashers 27-19.

In the 3rd the teams would continue to battle, this time the Dashers would make things interesting for Carolina. The Dashers would attack quickly, and the pressure would culminate with a Michael Dolman goal at 8:25 of the period. A bad defensive zone turn-over would give Matt Coleman the puck, and he would find Dolman for the goal, making it 2-1 Carolina. The Thunderbirds would respond soon afterwards however, at 8:54 of the period Matt Kaludis would knock down Chase Fallis outside of the blue paint, and put his team short-handed. On the power-play Michael Bunn would fire the puck off a Danville defender and in, making it 3-1 Carolina. Rick O’Connor and Jay Croop would assist on the goal, Bunn’s team-leading 26th of the season. Just 29 seconds later Tom Kilgore would find Croop all alone past the Dasher defense. Croop would deke out Kaludis and bury the puck to make it 4-1. Shortly after the Dashers would get another chance on the man-advantage when Seth Gustin would take an interference minor at 10:26 of the period. On the power-play Daniel Martin would blast the puck past Curl, making it a 4-2 game. The Thunderbirds would keep up the offensive pressure and skate out to a 4-2 victory.

In the win Kelly Curl would stop 26 of 28 shots, while Kaludis would turn away 34 of 38.

Notable Stats

In his 100th professional game Tom Kilgore would score a goal and assist for a 2 point night.

Michael Bunn’s 3rd period power-play goal is his 26th goal of the season, his 6th power-play goal, and his 6th game-winning goal.


What’s Next

The Thunderbirds’ will finish their season series against the Danville Dashers at home on March 25. Sunday’s game will feature a matinee game with a 4:05 pm puck drop. For more information about the Thunderbirds please call 336-774-GOAL(4625) or log on to