Thunderbirds Drop Game Two to Binghamton, 4-3

Comeback bid falls short at home

by Brendan Reilly

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds fell in Game Two of the Commissioners Cup Finals to the Binghamton Black Bears, 4-3, on Saturday night at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Arena. 


Binghamton jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 85 seconds into on a goal from Gavin Yates on the first shot from the Black Bears, but Carolina responded just over two minutes later. Petr Panacek found Jiri Pestuka in the slot and snapped home his second goal of the playoffs to tie the game at one. The Black Bears regained the lead on a Tyson Kirkby goal at the 8:50 mark and doubled their advantage on the power play nearly three minutes later with Yates’ second of the night as the visitors took a 3-1 lead into the 1st intermission. 


In the 2nd, Carolina settled in, finding opportunities and with just under nine minutes remaining in the period, Jan Salak netted his second goal cutting the deficit to one, 3-2. The two sides went to the 3rd in a one-goal game, and just two seconds into a power play, Kirkby was left alone in the slot beating Cody Karpinski, making it 4-2 Black Bears. 


Thunderbirds Head Coach Steve Harrison took a gamble with five minutes remaining in a two-goal game pulling Karpinski for an extra attacker and the gamble paid off with Josh Koepplinger cutting the deficit to one with 4:32 left in regulation. Now with a one-goal game, Harrison brought on the extra attacker with 2:30 remaining but the Thunderbirds could not find a tying goal and dropped Game Two, 4-3. 


Binghamton takes a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series as the series shifts to Binghamton next Friday for Game Three. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. from the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena. 


Binghamton Sweeps Road-portion of Finals

by Brooks Hill

Winston-Salem, NC -The Binghamton Black Bears defeated the Carolina Thunderbirds 4-3, on Saturday night. Tyson Kirkby and Gavin Yates both recorded two goals, in the one-goal affair. 

For the second night in a row, the Black Bears were able to score three goals in the opening frame. Just 85 seconds into the game, Gavin Yates scored his first goal of the night. Jiri Pestuka answered for the Thunderbirds, just a minute later, tying the game at 1-1. Tyson Kirkby scored his first of the postseason, reclaiming the lead for the Bears, and Yates was able to add a power play strike, making it 3-1. 

The Thunderbirds pressed in the second, outshooting the Black Bears 13-5 in the middle frame. Jan Salak cut the deficit in half and got the fanbase back into the game. Carolina was unbale to convert on their two power plays, and still trailed Binghamton 2-3 going into the third period. 

In a tight checking third period, Connor McAnanama and Cody Karpinski withstood the pressure until Kirkby netted his second of the night. The second power play goal of the night for the Black Bears turned out to be the game-winning goal. Josh Koepplinger was able to score with the net empty, again bringing the game to within one, but Carolina was unbale to convert a second time. 

Binghamton wins game two, 4-3 and takes a 2-0 series lead back to Binghamton.