COLUMBUS PICKS UP OPENING WIN IN CAROLINA SERIES 4-2
by Zak DeBeaussaert
Columbus, GA - The Columbus River Dragons grinded out a 3-point win to go tied atop the FPHL standings on Wednesday night beating the Carolina Thunderbirds 4-2.
Columbus got the scoring started early after a Fred Hein turnover in his own zone. The River Dragons pounced on the opportunity with a 3-on-1 back the other way and some tic-tac-toe passing saw Connor Fries blast in his 3rd goal of the season at the 5:24 mark of the first period. Later in the frame Jake Schultz tallied with a well-placed shot from the point on a power play and the Dragons had a two-goal lead before the halfway point in the first.
Carolina would fire one back with Tommy Tsicos finding some space and blasting a shot past Caffrey's glove with about two minutes left in the first. Columbus would answer back quickly. 1:10 later and CJ Stubbs found the back of the net after he took a hit from the left circle and the puck pinballed past Nick Modica and in.
A scoreless 2nd period saw Carolina shake off the early game jitters and put the pressure on Columbus. While the Thunderbirds couldn't solve Caffrey in the period the shot total of 14-2 for Carolina in the 2nd period told the story of the middle frame.
Still with a 3-1 lead going into the 3rd, Columbus earned a power play early on but couldn't capitalize. Eventually the momentum started to swing back towards Carolina and they found the back of the net when Jacob Boll was left all alone in the left wing and blasted one in to bring the game back within one.
Some tense moments late in the game as Carolina called timeout with an offensive zone draw and 1:13 left on the clock. Head coach Andre Niec elected to pull the goalie to get the advantage. Despite that, the River Dragons broke out of the zone and Josh Pietrantonio put in the empty net goal against his former team to ice the win for the River Dragons and take all 3 points.
Jacob Caffrey picks up the win stopping 38 of 40 shots Carolina fired. Nick Modica takes the loss with 19 saves on 22 shots.
Carolina and Columbus finish up their series with games on Friday and Saturday at the Civic Center. Tickets available on Ticketmaster and at the Civic Center Box Office. Friday's puck drop is at 7:35 and Saturday is 6:35.
Three Stars of the Game