23 Wins and Counting
By Zak DeBeaussaert
Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds moved their winning streak to 23 with a 4-1 win over the Watertown Wolves on Friday night in front of a sold out Fairgrounds Annex crowd.
Carolina opened the scoring with a Chase Fallis goal that was one-timed on a well placed pass by Petr Panacek going circle to circle. Fallis was one of three Thunderbirds players to get their 16th goal of the year in this one. Later in the period, Watertown would tie the score with Tyler Gjurich ringing his 31st goal of the year off the pipe on a power play. That tie game would last only 52 seconds until Michael Bunn scored with a backhand effort that beat Jared Rutledge to the low blocker side. That was all for first period scoring, but Ryan Jasinsky and Justin Coachman would drop the gloves in a good fight halfway through to get the crowd of 3,000+ energized.
Carolina would take the 2-1 lead into both intermission locker room breaks as there was no scoring in the second period. There were some good chances each way, with shots favoring Carolina 17-10 in the period, but nothing went by either Christian Pavlas or Rutledge.
In the third period, Carolina got themselves insurance goals through Josh Pietrantonio and Jan Salak, each man picked up their 16th goal of the year and gave the game its final score.
With the win Carolina moved to 97 points on the year and has now mathematically clinched a playoff spot in the 2019 FHL Playoffs. Christian Pavlas stopped 21 of 22 shots for the win, his 19th of the year. Jared Rutledge stopped 54 of 58 shots in the loss.
Carolina now looks to another sold out crowd for Saturday night against the same Wolves team. Only standing room tickets remain for tomorrow's game. Sunday afternoon tickets are still available at the Fairgrounds Box Office or online at TicketMaster.
3 Stars of the Game:
Photo credit: V. Khouri