Experimental Shootout Rule Gives Prowlers Win Over Thunderbirds

By Zak DeBeaussaert 

Winston-Salem, NC - Alex Johnson registered the only goal of the pre-game shootout that was tested for the second time at the Fairgrounds Annex, and his goal would ultimately decide the game, as the Port Huron Prowlers defeated the Carolina Thunderbirds, 5-4.

Henry Dill stopped four of five Prowlers shots while Cory Simons was a perfect five-for-five tonight before the game got underway.

The game itself was a phenomenal display by both teams, with Carolina jumping out to an early 2-0 lead courtesy of Beau Walker and Stan Vlasov, who each scored their third goals of the season. 

Port Huron would respond with some highlight worthy goals from both Dalton Jay and Zachary Zulkanycz to tie the game up midway through the second period. However, Carolina took the lead into the locker room after 40 minutes when Tommy Mahoney recorded his first ever goal as a Thunderbird to separate the teams.

The Prowlers would strike back twice to take the lead as Matyas Kasek scored off a scrum in front of Henry Dill, and then Josh Colten gave Port Huron their first lead of the game with a shot from the right point off of a faceoff. The Thunderbirds responded with Petr Panacek burying a rebound off of a pad pass from Everett Thompson on a 2-on-1 that made the teams level after regulation.

With overtime looming, the Prowlers knew they had the advantage by winning the pre-game shootout, 1-0. That didn't mean Port Huron sat back and played defense the whole time. It was only until Head Coach Andre Niec pulled Henry Dill with a little over a minute to go that the Prowlers held the fort down in the defensive zone against an extended 4-on-3 advantage for the Thunderbirds. While Carolina peppered Cory Simons with shots, they ultimately could not put one past him by the time the five minutes was up, and the Prowlers took the first ever professional hockey victory via pre-game shootout.

Henry Dill stopped 20 of 24 shots for no decision, while Cory Simons stopped 29 of 33 shots in no decision.

The Thunderbirds and Prowlers played in front of a sellout crowd of 3,050 on Saturday night. Fans will have a chance to officially offer feedback on the experimental rule change on Monday.

Carolina now looks ahead to a road trip across New York, taking on the Elmira Enforcers Friday night and then heading up to Watertown to play the Wolves on Saturday night.

3 Stars of the Game:
Karel Drahorad
Tommy Mahoney
Chase Fallis 

Attendance: 3,050

Photo credit: V. Khouri