Thunderbirds Secure 2 More Commitments For 2019-2020

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds are happy to announce that two players from the 2018-19 championship team have committed to play again for the Thunderbirds this upcoming season.

Jay Kenney will return to the Thunderbirds in 2019-20 in a limited capacity, but not as limited as he was last year per Thunderbirds GM Jimmy Milliken.

"It’s great that Kenney is coming back to play more games for us this season, he just gives us a steadier back end" Milliken said. "Everyone loves [Kenney], in the locker room, all the way to our fans. He’s a leader on and off the ice. Although he won’t be full time, he will definitely bring the team stability and depth.”

Kenney is currently a firefighter with the WSFD and only played in select home games last season while training for his current position. Last season Kenney appeared in 17 games, scoring 2 goals and dishing out 7 assists. He also racked up 50 penalty minutes.

Also returning to the Carolina red and white this season is forward Petr Panacek.

Panacek is a native of Vysocany, Czech Republic and in his first season with Carolina registered over 50 points while appearing in every regular season and playoff game in the 2018-19 campaign. His three playoff goals came in huge moments in game 1 against Port Huron and games 2 and 4 against Elmira.

"We are excited to bring Petr back" Milliken said. "As a rookie last season, he scored 18 goals and 36 assists in the regular season and got better as the year went along. We expect him to come in, build off a solid 1st year and have an even better season in 19-20 in a Thunderbirds sweater."

Panacek wil be spending his fourth season in North America in 19-20. After a long career in Czech junior hockey and a brief stint in Czech4, he made the decision to finish his junior career in North America with Butte (WSHL) and Kingsville (GMHL) before being picked up by the North Shore Knights (now-defunct) where he made his FHL debut. For Panacek though he found a home in Winston-Salem.

"I'm happy to be back another year playing in Winston-Salem" Panacek said. "The fans here are amazing and it really makes it a place where I know I want to play because of the support and the success we had."

Panacek and Kenney join Michael Bunn and head coach Andre Niec as those so far from the 2018-19 campaign on the ice who have committed to be in Carolina in 2019-20.


The Carolina Thunderbirds are proud members of the Federal Hockey League, now in its tenth season. The Thunderbirds are looking forward to their third season of play and one where they hope to defend their 2018-19 Commissioner's Cup Championship. The Thunderbirds welcomed in nearly 95,000 people to their home, the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, during their championship run shattering their old team attendance record in the process. Season tickets for 2019-2020 are available now by calling 336-774-4625.