Thunderbirds Ready for Home-and-Home Set against Bobcats
Winston-Salem, NC - After a split and three points in the rematch of the 2023 Commissioner Cup Finals to open the season, the Carolina Thunderbirds set their sights on one of the newest franchises in the FPHL, the Wytheville Blue Ridge Bobcats. The two sides play a home-and-home series this weekend starting on Friday in Wytheville and then at the Annex on Saturday.
Carolina in its series against Danbury put together a third period comeback in Game One last Friday night at the Danbury Arena. After an early goal from Jiri Pestuka, the Hat Tricks scored two unanswered and took a one goal advantage into the third period. Over the final 20 minutes though, the Thunderbirds found the equalizer from Jan Salak and Gus Ford netted two after that pushing Carolina to a 4-2 opening night victory.
In game two, despite the Thunderbirds outshooting Danbury 35-19, the Hat Tricks, and goalie Connor McCollum, were able to fend off a feisty Carolina, resulting in a 2-1 win for the home side. The Thunderbirds left Danbury with a record of 1-1-0 and three points.
Petr Panacek leads all Thunderbirds with three points after having a pair of assists on Friday and the lone assist on Saturday. Ford leads the Thunderbirds with two goals over the first two contests, while Joe Kennedy leads the team in penalty minutes with seven. Over his first two starts, Mario Cavaliere allowed four goals on 41 shots, good for a 2.00 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.
The Thunderbirds penalty kill was perfect on the weekend, going 5-for-5, while going 0-for-4 over the first two games on the power play.
Wytheville, one of two expansion teams to join the league this season (Baton Rouge), has already played four games this year. The Bobcats were swept two weekends ago at home against the Mississippi Sea Wolves, losing 5-3 in game one and dropping game two in overtime, 4-3. Last weekend, Wytheville was also on the road in Michigan to see the Motor City Rockers. In game one, the Bobcats picked up the franchise’s first ever win, a 5-4 overtime victory, before falling in game two, 4-3.
The Bobcats hold a record of 1-2-1 and three points heading into this weekend’s series, sitting in a tie for fourth in the Empire Division. The team is led by forward Jakub Volf who has six points across four games, three goals and three assists, while Hunter Hall, Vlasov Vladislav, and former Thunderbird, Cody Oakes, each have four points.
Defenseman Kolton Maguire leads the team in penalty minutes with 16 across four contests. In net, the Bobcats have two netminders who have seen action in every game. Christian Pavlas, who went 30-3-2 while with the Thunderbirds in 2018-19, holds a record of 1-1-1, allowing 12 goals on 104 shots, posting a 3.83 goals against average and a .894 save percentage. Connor Green is the other goalie, who is 0-1 on the season with a 4.05 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. Wytheville’s penalty kill has been strong, allowing only one goal on 13 opportunities, but the power play comes into this weekend at 12%.
Friday is the first of 13 matchups between the two organizations this season. Game one is on Friday night in Wytheville at the Apex Center with puck drop at 7:30 p.m. Game two is on Saturday at home with puck drop at 6:05 p.m. from the Annex.
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