Carolina Falls in Game One to Binghamton, 5-3

Ford hat-trick not enough in loss

by Brendan Reilly

Winston-Salem, NC - Despite a hat-trick from Gus Ford, the Carolina Thunderbirds dropped Game One of the Commissioners Cup Finals, 5-3, to the Binghamton Black Bears on Friday evening at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Arena.


Binghamton struck early in Game One. Just over four minutes in, Connor Smith beat Carolina netminder, Mario Cavaliere, on a rebound giving the visitors a 1-0 lead. Over eight minutes later, Jestin Somero threw a shot in on Cavaliere from the near boards that snuck in to give the Black Bears a 2-0 advantage. With just under four minutes left in the period, Josh Fletcher received a pass from Gavin Yates all alone on the near side and tapped home a goal giving Binghamton a 3-0 lead heading into the 1stintermission. 


Early in the 2nd period with Carolina needing a response, Gus Ford delivered on the penalty kill. Ford knocked a pass down from Connor McAnanama and walked in front outlasting the netminder to make it a two-goal game. 36 seconds later though, Daniel Stone dumped a puck into the attacking zone that ricocheted off a stanchion and found the back of the net building the lead back to three, 4-1. 


Binghamton held that lead going into the 3rd period, but the Thunderbirds did not go away. With 7:25 remaining in the 3rd, Ford walked into the top of the slot snapping home his second goal of the evening, cutting the deficit in half, 4-2. Less than four minutes later, Carolina got its own home bounce. 


After Joe Kennedy dumped the puck in, the puck bounced to Ford behind the net and he threw it off a Black Bear in front of the goal to cut the Black Bears lead to one, 4-3, with 3:50 remaining in regulation. 


Now a one-goal game, the Thunderbirds pulled Cavaliere to bring on the extra attacker with two minutes remaining but could not find another goal with Binghamton hanging on for a Game One victory. 


The Black Bears now lead the Commissioners Cup Finals, 1-0, with Game Two on Saturday evening in Winston-Salem. Puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m. from the Fairgrounds Arena. 


Black Bears Take Game 1

by Brooks Hill

Winston-Salem, NC - The Binghamton Black Bears defeated the Carolina Thunderbirds 5-3 on Friday night, in game one of the finals. Binghamton used their three-goal opening period to propel themselves across the finish line, stealing a game on the road.

The Black Bears got off the bus ready to play, as Connor Smith started the scoring, just 4:07 into the contest. Binghamton kept the pressure up, as Smith’s goal was followed by Jestin Somero and Josh Fletcher both scoring at even strength. After 20 minutes, Binghamton had silenced the crowd, leading 3-0.

The Thunderbirds awoke when Gus Ford started the scoring in the middle period. The assistant captain was able to record the first shorthanded allowed against the Black Bears this postseason. However, after an extremely fortuitous bounce of the glass, Dan Stone was credited with his first goal of the postseason, on the power play. Carolina was on the board, but found themselves in the same hole, down by three after two periods.

In the third period, Binghamton couldn’t find any insurance goals, and Carolina took advantage. Ford was able to cut the lead to two at 12:35 and after another fortuitous bounce, Ford completed his hat trick, cutting the lead down to one with 3:50 remaining. The T-birds pressed hard, but Connor McAnanama withstood the test. Austin Thompson tallied the empty-goal goal and secured the victory for Binghamton. Black Bears win 5-3 and now lead the series 1-0 in the best-of-5 matchup.