Thunderbirds Fall in Shootout to Columbus, 3-2

Winston-Salem, NC – The Carolina Thunderbirds dropped game one of a three-game series to the Columbus River Dragons in a shootout, 3-2, Thursday night at the Fairgrounds Arena.

Carolina (39-11-4) opened the scoring in the 1st period seven minutes in. Jon Buttitta danced through a defender and snapped one over the blocker of Columbus (44-7-3) netminder, Breandan Colgan, giving the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead.

Carolina held the advantage until the final minute of the 2nd period. On the shorthand, Alex Storjohann found a rebound in the slot and beat Mario Cavaliere tying the game at one with six seconds remaining in the period.

In the 3rd, Columbus went to the power play and Hunter Bersani tapped a rebound home with 5:11 remaining in regulation, making it 2-1 in favor of the visitors. Carolina then responded on a 6-on-3 opportunity on the power play with 50 seconds remaining, tying the game on a one-timer from Josh Koepplinger, sending the two sides to overtime for the fourth time this season.

After a scoreless five minutes, Carolina and Columbus went to a shootout. After Koepplinger scored in the first round and Ryan Hunter scored in the second, the two sides went to sudden death. In the fifth round, Josh Pietrantonio found the back of the net and Chris Ciolek could not respond as Columbus beat Carolina, 3-2 (2-1) in the fifth round of the shootout.

The Thunderbirds and River Dragons meet for game two on Friday night. Puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m. from the Fairgrounds Arena.