Carolina Erases 3-Goal Deficit, Defeats Port Huron in Overtime

By Zak DeBeaussaert 

Winston-Salem, NC - The Port Huron Prowlers silenced a crowd of 2,847 with a 3-0 lead early in the second period -- Until the Carolina Thunderbirds came from behind with four unanswered goals to win 4-3 in overtime on Friday night.

Frankie McClendon got the start for Carolina tonight but would only last one period as Port Huron put two past him in the first period. The first goal was set up by Austin Fetterly passing through the neutral zone to put Matt Graham on a breakaway and he finished over the glove hand of McClendon to make it 1-0. The second goal was an unfortunate gift in the eyes of Carolina fans. After a stick save made on a dump in McClendon went to glove the puck but missed putting his hand over top of it and slipped it to the slot where Matyas Kasek ended up shooting it home for a 2-0 lead through one.

The Thunderbirds made a goalie change to start the second period with Christian Pavlas taking over the net, but it didn't take Port Huron long to solve another Carolina goaltender. Matt Robertson wristed a shot past the glove hand of Pavlas only five seconds in to give the Prowlers a 3-0 lead. Carolina would shore themselves up defensively and not allow any more goals in the game, but there was still the task of climbing the three goal mountain in front of them. The first step was made by Michael Bunn finishing off a beautiful two-on-one between him and Petr Panacek a little over five minutes into the frame to awaken the Annex crowd. Viktor Grebennikov would bring the Thunderbirds within one at 17:28 with a shot from along the goal line that trickled through Cory Simons and went over the line. His seventh of the year gave the game a 3-2 scoreline heading into the second intermission.

Carolina fired off many shots during the third period and kept the pressure on Simons who was tall to the task until the 17:28 mark. A Bunn centering feed deflected off Panacek and went top shelf to tie the game with less than three minutes to go in regulation. A controversial moment occurred in the last minute of the game when Jiri Pestuka was high sticked after a shot that went undetected from the referee. The Prowlers were 3-on-2 on the ensuing rush, coming into the Carolina end but the referee blew play dead for what he deemed to be a serious injury. Port Huron unhappy about the loss of opportunity, the Thunderbirds were unhappy about no penalty, and all this with forty seconds to go. Those last seconds ticked away and the game went to overtime, the second consecutive OT for Carolina this season.

Pestuka shook off the missed high stick that injured him earlier and backhanded one past Simons to send the crowd home happy at 1:34 into overtime. 

Christian Pavlas picked up the win with 41 minutes of work and 12 saves on 13 shots. Cory Simons took the OT loss with 56 saves on 60 shots.

The same two teams meet again at the Annex on Saturday night with less than 100 tickets available at the time of this writing. Tickets can be found online at TicketMaster.

3 Stars of the Game:
Jiri Pestuka
Michael Bunn
Petr Panacek 

Attendance: 2,847

Photo credit: V. Khouri