Thunderbirds Rally in the Third Period to Win Opener, 4-2
Danbury, CT - After trailing in their season opener after 40 minutes on Friday night, the Carolina Thunderbirds stormed back in the third period with three unanswered goals, taking down the Danbury Hat Tricks, 4-2, at the Danbury Arena.
Carolina (1-0-0, 3 PTS) came out quick in the first period with the Czech Line, Jan Salak, Petr Panacek and Jiri Pestuka putting the Thunderbirds on the board nearly eight minutes into the first. After a loose puck found the stick of Panacek, the Vysocanny, Czech Republic native delivered a dot-to-dot pass to Pestuka who finished with a wide open net, giving Carolina a 1-0 lead at 7:39 in the first.
It did not take long for Danbury (2-3-0, 5 PTS) to respond. Nearly two minutes later, Sam Dabrowski tied the game at one on a breakaway at 9:06 in the period. The two sides went to the intermission tied at one.
In the second, the Hat Tricks took their first lead of the night on a snap shot from the high slot from Jarod Yau at 3:31, making it 2-1.
The Hat Tricks held on to the advantage heading to the third period, but the Thunderbirds had 93 seconds left on a two-minute power play to start the frame.
Starting the third on the power play gave Carolina the spark it needed. Despite not scoring up a man, the Thunderbirds carried early momentum leading to the equalizer from Jan Salak on a tip-in in front at 3:49 in the third tying the game at two.
Almost two minutes later at 5:46 in the period, the reigning FPHL MVP took over. Joe Kennedy held the puck at the point and wristed one towards the net that found its way through traffic only for Gus Ford to find a deflection and sneak one past Danbury’s netminder giving the Thunderbirds a 3-2 lead, and the lead for good.
Ford was not done there. The Tillsonburg, Ontario native went end to end dancing through Hat Tricks defenders and deking out Kevin Lake, doubling the visitors advantage, 4-2, at the 8:26 mark of the third. From there, Carolina weathered any threat of the Hat Tricks and gave new Head Coach, Steve Harrison, his first win behind the bench with Carolina.
With two assists, Panacek was named the third star while the game-winning and insurance goal from Gus Ford earned him the first star of the evening. The pair of assists for Panacek also gave him his 200th point in a Thunderbirds sweater.
Carolina tries to sweep the weekend set against Danbury Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. from the Danbury Arena.