Wolves top Thunderbirds in series opener

Winston-Salem, NC – The Carolina Thunderbirds dropped Game 1 of a second round series against the Watertown Wolves, 4-1. After sweeping the opening round against Port Huron, the Thunderbirds are down in a series for the first time this postseason.

Carolina entered the game having never beaten Watertown in postseason play. The Wolves knocked off the Thunderbirds in two games during the 2018 playoffs. Viktor Grebennikov started Carolina on the right foot. Late in the first period, Grebennikov threw a shot toward the net at an opportunistic time. Watertown defenseman crossed into the sightline of goaltender Adam Beukeboom. Grebennikov’s shot floated past the glove of Beukeboom, giving Carolina the 1-0 lead. Nick Modica stopped all 15 Watertown shots, and helped Carolina protect the lead into the first intermission.

Watertown continued the attack in the second period. After outshooting the Thunderbirds 15-9 in the first, the Wolves put another 16 toward Modica’s net in the second period. Alexander Jmaeff slipped into the offensive zone down the left wing, cut across to the right, and snapped a shot past the blocker of Nick Modica to tie the game. Minutes later, the Thunderbirds picked up a too many men on the ice penalty, and had to kill their first penalty of the evening. On the powerplay, former Winnipeg Jets draft pick Jimmy Lodge fired a wrist shot off the glove of Modica and into the net for the 2-1 lead. The Wolves carried that lead into the second intermission and dominated the pace of play.

Justin MacDonald continued the attack early in the 3rd period. After Lodge shut down a Carolina breakout at the near blue line, he fired a pass back down to MacDonald who outwaited Modica for the 3-1 lead. Colin Chmelka added a powerplay goal later in the 3rd to ensure the 4-1 Watertown victory. Nick Modica made 38 saves during his first career playoff loss.

Carolina and Watertown head up to New York this weekend for Games 2 and 3 of the series.