by Zak DeBeaussaert
Columbus, GA - The Carolina Thunderbirds took the fifth game out of five-in-a-row between the southern rivals of the FPHL, defeating the Columbus River Dragons on Wednesday night by a score of 4-2.
Carolina did all their damage in the first half of the game and did so on the power play not once, but twice. Facing a long 5-on-3 penalty kill, Carolina scored through Jacob Schnapp and Chris Hunt 36 seconds apart. The two power play goals brought the teams back to even strength with the exchange of a 2-goal Carolina lead.
Before the period was over Carolina would add a third with Schnapp backhanding one that found its way through Jared Rutledge at the 10:31 mark of the period to give the Thunderbirds a 3-goal lead through 20 minutes.
The second period saw Carolina adding another to their lead with 9:26 gone in the second period. John Buttitta scored 5-hole on the power play, the third power play goal of the night for Carolina to make it 4-0 Thunderbirds.
Columbus would find some late life with Jay Croop scoring his 4th of the season on a beautiful slap pass from Oleg Shypitsyn to tap in and break up Chris Paulin's shutout. Then later in the 3rd, Noah Doyle fired a puck from the right point to go bar down and score his 2nd of the season.
With 9 minutes left in the period and two goals scored in a 3-minute span the Dragons were pressing and firing a good quantity of shots at Paulin, but he and the Thunderbirds defense stood tall to secure the win and all three points.
Chris Paulin gets the win with 26 saves on 28 shots, Jared Rutledge suffers his first regulation loss of the season with 17 saves on 21 shots.
The full points split after five games between Columbus and Carolina went 10-5 in favor of the Dragons. Now, Columbus looks ahead to the FPHL-leading Watertown Wolves on the road Friday and Saturday night. Puck drop for both games is at 7:30.
Three Stars of the Game