Thunderbirds survive tough test from Rumble Bees

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, 2019 Commissioner’s Cup champions and proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, defeated the Battle Creek Rumble Bees 5-2 on Friday night at the Annex.

“I’m happy we got the win,” said interim coach Karolina Huvarova who coached for Andre Niec while he served a one-game suspension.

The Thunderbirds started quickly, scoring just 62 seconds into the game when Jan Salak buried a one-timer off of a set faceoff play. It was Salak’s 11th goal of the season and he was not finished.

Daniel Klinecky scored on a fluttering slapshot just 1:24 after Salak’s goal. Then, with under five minutes to go in the first, Salak tipped in a shot from Stanislav Bachor to make it 3-0.

“He was good,” said Huvarova, “He played good hockey and we needed that.”

Battle Creek would inch closer late in the first when Stavros Soilis notched his first goal of the season on an odd-man rush.

Both teams traded shots in the second period, but it was Adam Howey who broke through the Thunderbirds defense with just 1:17 remaining in the second. Howey also scored the last time these two teams met.

The Thunderbirds added another when Salak completed the hat trick just 1:15 into the third period, logging the team’s seventh shorthanded goal of the season.

Stanislav Vlasov added one more insurance marker, another shorthanded goal, later in the period as well.

The Thunderbirds outshot Battle Creek 66-15 in the game.

“I don’t care about any number other than the 5-2 one,” said Huvarova.

The Thunderbirds remain atop the FPHL, improving to 18-1-0-1 with 55 points.

Meanwhile, Battle Creek has tied the 1962-63 Pittsburgh Hornets for the longest winless streak in North American hockey history. The Rumble Bees are now 0-23-0-0 without a standings point.

The two teams will face each other again tomorrow at 6:05 p.m.