Thunderbirds Take Game 1 In Dominant Fashion 7-3

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds took game 1 of the 2019 Commissioner's Cup Final behind great play from Michael Bunn and the newly returned Beau Walker defeating Elmira 7-3.

Bunn opened the scoring early in this one with a goal 2:14 into the first period. Bunn went had down the right wing side and a buried a shot far side past Troy Passingham. 

The early goal seemed to settle the two teams because it would take 10+ minutes for another goal to happen, and for the home crowd it was a good one as Walker got himself back in the goal column with a shot from a give-and-go play with Jan Salak. Walker's tally would be matched by Karel Drahorad with a one-timer in the slot again set up by Salak about two minutes later.

Facing a 3-0 deficit heading into the locker room, Kyle Stevens answered back for Elmira with a shot off a rebound given up by Christian Pavlas with about a minute to go in the frame.

The second period was more of the same. Literally, as Carolina scored three more in the second and Elmira would answer after the three goals.

The Thunderbirds got goals again from Beau Walker and Michael Bunn (their second of the night each). Then with Michael Bunn thinking hat trick he drove the net and made a great pass across the crease and Jiri Pestuka tapped in his first of the playoffs to make it 6-1.

The Enforcers answer came from Sean Reynolds who after being denied on a wrap-around chipped one over the blocker hand of Pavlas to make it 6-2.

While the game might have seemed in hand at this point both teams came out with something to prove. Tensions rose and messages were sent ahead of game 2. Some goal scoring also happened in the third period. Josh Pietrantonio spun in the slot and flung one past Passingham to end his night at the 6:03 mark of the 3rd. JT Walters would answer 57 seconds later to give the game its final score of 7-3.

Christian Pavlas stopped 26 of 29 shots in the win, his third of these playoffs. Troy Passingham takes his first loss of the playoffs, stopping 34 of 41 shots with Nick Niedert stopping all six he saw in relief.

Both team square off at the Annex again tomorrow for game 2 with a 6:05 puck drop scheduled in Winston-Salem.

Three Stars of the Game

Josh Pietrantonio
Beau Walker
Jan Salak