DANBURY HAT TRICKS at CAROLINA THUNDERBIRDS
FORD OUT-HAT-TRICKS DANBURY, BIRDS TAKE 2-0 SERIES LEAD
by Brett Wiseman
Winston-Salem, NC - In the final home game of 2022-2023 before a crowd of 2,868 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, Gus Ford put the Carolina Thunderbirds on his back and carried them to a clinical 5-1 win over the Danbury Hat Tricks. With the win, the Thunderbirds take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Commissioner's Cup Final.
Danbury scored first again as they did in Game 1, but just the same Gus Ford had Carolina's full response.
He sniped home the equalizer on the power play with just eight seconds remaining in the opening frame, showing great patience as he sent a wrist shot through a sea of bodies. It was also the second straight night that Danbury surrendered a demoralizing goal in the final ten seconds of the first period.
Ford added another on the power play in nearly identical fashion at the 7:32 mark of the second period. Then in the third, completed a lengthy natural hat trick when he deflected a pass from Joe Kennedy past Brian Wilson at the 6:37 mark of the final frame.
Jiri Pestuka and Viktor Grebennikov each added empty netters to finish off the 5-1 win. Greg Hussey was again great in goal, stopping 29 of 30 Danbury shots and earning third star honors. Ford, of course, earned first star for his hat trick.
The series now heads to Danbury with the Thunderbirds ahead 2 games to none. They can clinch the Commissioner's Cup with a victory Friday night. Game 3 is slated for a 7:30 puck drop from Danbury Ice Arena.
HAT TRICKS FALL IN GAME 2 TO THUNDERBIRDS
by Chris Lynch
Winston-Salem, NC - The Danbury Hat Tricks looked for a bounce-back effort in Game Two of the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Series against the Carolina Thunderbirds. They instead fell victim to a hostile crowd and Carolina offense, falling 5-1 and now two games down to the Thunderbirds in the Finals.
Jacob Ratcliffe opened the scoring 1:15 into the game and looked to have the Hat Tricks on the right path for the evening. Danbury held their lead until eight seconds remained in the frame when Gus Ford scored on a power play to tie the game before the intermission.
Ford added another goal on a power play 7:32 into the second period. Danbury then had a five-on-three power play chance but could not finish it off, missing ultimately on seven power play chances through the night.
Danbury, outshot through the first two periods 36-19, fired 11 shots on Gregg Hussey in the final stanza but could not crack the scoreboard in the final stanza. Hussey stopped 29 of 30 shots he faced. Ford added one more goal for a hat trick. Jiri Pestuka and Viktor Grebenikov added empty net goals to cap the scoring at 5-1.
Brian Wilson stopped 44 shots in the Danbury net.
The Thunderbirds lead the series two-games-to-none.
Game Three of the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Series is at the Danbury Ice Arena on Friday night at 7:30 PM.