Thunderbirds Make Things Interesting Late, Still Fall 5-3.

Winston-Salem, NC –Thunderbirds Make Things Interesting Late, Still Fall 5-3. 

How It Happened

For the first time this season the Port Huron Prowlers would make the long trip down from Michigan to play in Winston-Salem against the Thunderbirds. Coming into tonight’s game the Prowlers are 9-1 in their last 10, winning their last 9 games. Carolina enters action 4-6 in their last 10 games, having won their last game.

It would be Michael Santaguida starting in net for Port Huron, Santaguida has a 4-0 record this season with a 3.24 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. Starting for Carolina it would be Cary Byron, who in 11 games has a 5-6 record. Byron enters action with a 3.94 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage.

The 1st period would start quickly for the Prowlers, who would get a power-play just 9 seconds into the game when Carolina’s Alex Vazquez would send the puck out of play on a delay-of-game call. The Thunderbirds would kill off the penalty, and continue to weather the storm of Prowlers offense. Out-shooting Carolina early, it was just a matter of time before the Prowlers would break through. A drop pass by Branden Parkhouse would find Matt Robertson in the high slot at 6:08 of the period. A quick clap-shot would go screaming just over Byron’s shoulder to make it 1-0, Mike Baker getting the secondary assist on the goal. The Thunderbirds would start to find their offensive legs once again, and their momentum would culminate with a CJ Blaszka shot from the near point would be deflected off both posts and in by Jiri Pestuka, his 12th of the season. The goal was only the 2nd shot of the game by Carolina and Yuto Osawa would earn the secondary assist on the goal. A Joe Pace Jr Interference penalty would send Carolina on the power-play, but it would be short-lived. Pestuka would take a slashing minor, and the teams would skate 4-on-4 for 46 seconds, before a 1:14 Prowlers power-play. Neither team would capitalize, but shortly after Dalton Jay would fire a shot from the near side wall that Byron would save, but bobble on the rebound. Prowlers newcomer Stepan Timofeyev would come streaking in and tap the puck in past Byron to give Port Huron a 2-1 lead headed into the intermission. Shots were 13 apiece in the 1st, with Byron making 11 saves and Santaguida making 12.

The 2nd period would be one to forget for the Thunderbirds, an early high-sticking penalty to Jay Croop would put the Prowlers back on the power-play. Carolina would kill the penalty, but a plethora of offensive chances for Port Huron would swing the momentum solidly in their favor. At 6:37 of the period Dalton Jay would find the back of the net, beating Byron, to make it 3-1. Just under 3 minutes later it would be a shot from the point by Joe Pace Jr that would be deflected weakly in on net by Parkhouse. The shot was tricky for Byron, and it would slowly find it’s way over the goal line. Jay would get the secondary assist on the goal that would end Byron’s night. After making 17 saves on 21 shots. Kelly Curl would come on in relief, and have a front row seat to a good scrap between Thunderbirds Stanislav Vlasov and Prowlers Edgars Ozolins. A Mike Baker tripping call at 12 minutes of the period would send Carolina back to the power-play. It would be the Prowlers who would strike however, a Matt Graham pass would spring Jay past the defense and he would halt and reverse direction, sending Curl sprawling for an easy shot-handed goal, Jay’s 2nd of the game. A late unsportsmanlike penalty on Pace Jr would send the Thunderbirds on the power-play to start the thirds. The teams would skate to the break with a 5-1 score in favor of the Prowlers. The shots would be 14 to 11 in favor of Carolina in the period, giving a 2 period total of 27 to 24 in favor of the home team.

The Thunderbirds would make the game interesting during the 3rd period, but their early power-play would be killed off. Using the momentum, Thunderbirds’ Tom Kilgore would find the back of the net at 2:43 of the period, Josh Pietrantonio getting the assist. Another early penalty for the Prowlers would give Carolina another chance when at 4:47 Timofeyev would take a slashing call, however the Prowlers would kill the penalty. More penalties for the Prowlers, and at 6:30 of the frame both Baker and Pace Jr would take penalties, Baker for interference and Pace Jr for unsportsmanlike. The Prowlers would kill off the true 5-on-3 as the Thunderbirds were unable to connect on the power-play throughout the game. At 11:47 Jay Croop of the Thunderbirds would make things interesting when he would spin around and fire a shot from the top of the near-side face-off circle that would find it’s way past Santaguida, making it a 2 goal game. Despite a late Mike Baker penalty the Prowlers would hold on to get the win.

In the loss Cary Byron would make 17 saves on 21 shots before being pulled. In relief Kelly Curl would stop 10 of 12. Michael Santaguida would stop 43 of 46 in the win.

Notable Stats

Dalton Jay’s Short-handed goal marks the 7th such goal given up by Carolina this season, the most in the Federal Hockey Leauge.

The Prowlers winning streak increases to 10 after the victory.


Back in Action

The Thunderbirds and Prowlers will skate again on Saturday the 13th. The puck will drop at 6:05 pm with the doors of the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex opening at 5:05. For tickets and more information please visit or call 336-774-GOAL(4625).