THUNDERBIRDS KEEP PLAYOFF HOPES ALIVE WITH 4-1 WIN ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON
by Zak DeBeaussaert
Columbus, GA - The Carolina Thunderbirds kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-1 win over the Columbus River Dragons Sunday afternoon.
Carolina struck early in the first period with Tommy Tsicos batting one out of the air after a Jared Rutledge save. Tsicos' stick stayed low enough for a 1-0 lead. That lead would hold through the period as both teams traded minor chances to have an even shot clock at 11-11 through 20 minutes.
In the second period, Columbus would find an equalizer 9:08 into the frame with Nate O'Brien driving the net off of a faceoff play and outreaching Chris Paulin to the left post. That goal stood as the only of the period, but Columbus began to take control offensively, now leading in shots 30-18 at this point.
Despite that shot disadvantage, Carolina came out in the third period firing on all cylinders. Jan Salak finished off a slick 2-on-1 play with Petr Panacek 1:14 into the third, and then 26 seconds later Tommy Tsicos sent a seeing eye shot past Rutledge for a quick two-goal lead.
Carolina would seemingly seal the game a few minutes later as Dominik Fejt got his first of the year on a well placed shot from the right circle to make it 4-1.
A Fejt and Jake Schultz fight would cap off the night and give the home fans something to cheer about near the end of the game, but Carolina holds on to their glimmer of hope in the Ignite Cup playoff race with all three points going to them in the win.
Chris Paulin gets his 3rd win of the season with a 42 save effort on 43 shots. Jared Rutledge takes the loss with 21 saves on 25 shots.
Columbus now needs 3 points (or 1 dropped Carolina point) to assure themselves a spot in the Ignite Cup playoffs heading in to the final weekend of the season. Port Huron arrives into town for a Friday-Saturday-Sunday set at the Civic Center. Tickets available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster, and Sunday's game can be seen on WTVM 9.2 Bounce.
Three Stars of the Game