Thunderbirds Head to Binghamton For Battle Against the Black Bears

Winston-Salem, NC - Following a weekend sweep of the Blue Ridge Bobcats, the Carolina Thunderbirds prepare for a series against the Binghamton Black Bears at the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena. Game one is on Friday at 7 p.m., with game two on Saturday. 

Carolina defeated Blue Ridge on both Friday and Saturday night, 4-1. The Thunderbirds used a pair of goals from Roman Kraemer, and goals from Dawson Baker and Joe Kennedy to skate by the Bobcats on Friday night in Wytheville. In game two on Saturday in Winston-Salem, the Thunderbirds trailed Blue Ridge by a goal after the first 20 minutes before scoring four unanswered goals in the middle period to take a 4-1 victory. The Thunderbirds came away with all six points on the weekend and currently sit at nine points on the season, good for a tie for second in the Continental division with Mississippi and Columbus.

The Thunderbirds are led by forwards Gus Ford and Petr Panacek who both have five points each. Ford had at least a point in both games over the weekend with an assist on Friday and a pair of goals on Saturday. Panacek assisted on a pair of goals in the game one win in Wytheville. Ford and Panacek both are tied for the second most points in franchise history with 203 points. 

Carolina improved on the power play last weekend netting three goals on the man advantage including Joe Kennedy who got his second goal of the season in the second period on Friday night. When down a man though, Carolina has been spotless, going 12-for-12 on the penalty kill this season. Netminder Mario Cavaliere has only allowed six goals across the first four games. 

Binghamton comes into the weekend at 5-0-2 with a league leading 17 points after a 4-2 victory over the Danbury Hat Tricks last Saturday in Danbury. The Black Bears have won three straight and are averaging 4.7 goals per game with a plus-13 goal differential. They are led by forward Brenden Stanko who has 14 points, four goals and ten assists, across seven games. Next are Connor Smith and Nikita Ivashkin who both have nine points. Nolan Egbert leads the Black Bears in net posting a 2-0-1 record with a 3.32 goals against average with a .886 save percentage.

The Black Bears a season ago lost to the Hat Tricks in the semifinals in three games, winning game one at home before dropping the next two in Danbury, setting up the Hat Tricks and Thunderbirds in the Commissioner Cup Finals. 

Last year, the Thunderbirds dominated the season series over Binghamton, sweeping the Black Bears in five regular season games. Carolina leads the all time series over Binghamton, 6-3-1, while holding a 3-2-0 record on the road.

Game one between the Thunderbirds and Black Bears is set for 7 p.m. Friday night from the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, NY. Fans can watch the game live on Thunderbirds TV.