Thunderbirds Handle Prowlers on the Road, Win 5-1.
Winston-Salem, NC – Thunderbirds Handle Prowlers on the Road, Win 5-1.
How It Happened
Coming off of their first overtime win of the season, the Thunderbirds would skate on the road against the Port Huron Prowlers for the 3rd game in 3 days. A 6-5 victory last night, it would be Thunderbirds forward Jiri Pestuka who would end the game in dramatic fashion. Coming into the Sunday matinee action the Thunderbirds are in 3rd place in the Federal Hockey League, at 7-1-4-1, with a .615 winning percentage. The Prowlers enter the game in 4th place in the FHL with a 5-0-4-1 record and a .533 winning percentage. Andrei Bezkhlebny would get the start for Port Huron in the net, while Kelly Curl would get the nod in net for Carolina
Unlike the first two games of the series it would be the Thunderbirds who would score first. Just 31 seconds into the period, Rick O’Connor would fire a shot from the far wing that Bezkhlebny would leave a juicy rebound from. Josh Pietrantonio would tap home the rebound to make it 1-0 Thunderbirds. Offensive pressure would swing back and forth but the Thunderbirds would score again when Jan Salak would pick up his own rebound and beat Bezkhlebny to make it 2-0, assisted by CJ Blaska. Just over a minute later Prowlers defenseman Taylor Love would turn the puck over to the Thunderbirds Forecheck, Michael Bunn would scoop up the puck behind the net and feed Tom Kilgore in front for an easy tap-in goal, 3-0 Thunderbirds at the intermission. Because of a Love double minor for high-sticking the Thunderbirds would start the 2nd period on the powerplay for 2:09.
The Prowlers league-best penalty kill would come through big not once but twice in that period. Port Huron would kill the remaining time on the Love double minor. At 10:42 of the 2nd however the Thunderbirds would break through again, as Salak and Pietrantonio would set up Jay Croop who would fire a shot that Bezkhlebny would slow down, but on the second effort Croop would put the puck home to make it 4-0 in favor of the Thunderbirds. The frustration would boil over for the Prowlers, as Nick Wright would take a two-minute instigator penalty, a 5-minute fighting major, and a 10-minute game misconduct for continuing a fight after the linesmen tried to separate Wright and Bunn. Bunn did not take any penalties on the play. The Prowlers would kill off the 7-minute Thunderbirds power-play and skate to the end of the period down 4-0.
An early goal by Port Huron would give them life when Yianni Liarakos would tap home the puck in front of the net to break the ice, making it 4-1 Carolina just 30 seconds into the period. The Thunderbirds would weather the storm and add a shorthanded goal of their own to make it 5-1 when Jiri Pestuka would steal the puck on the Penalty-Kill and feed it to Kilgore in front of the net. The teams would skate to a 5-1 final with the Thunderbirds taking the series.
Jan Salak’s game-winning goal is his 3rd of the season, which ties Matt Robertson of the Prowlers for best in the league.
Kelly Curl would earn the 1st star of the game, making 32 saves on 33 shots in the win.
Back in Action
The Thunderbirds will stay on the road as they head to Watertown New York to play the Wolves. On Saturday and Sunday, December 9 and 10 the two teams will play. Saturday the 9th the game begins at 7:05 pm EST on the Thunderbirds Radio network. Sunday’s game will start at 4:35 pm EST on the Radio Network, with a 5 pm EST puck drop.