CAROLINA THUNDERBIRDS vs DANBURY HAT TRICKS
Thunderbirds Double Up Hat Tricks, 6-3
by Chris Lynch
Danbury, CT. - Through the 2022 portion of the 2022-23 season, the Danbury Hat Tricks won all 11 games they hosted at the Danbury Ice Arena. On the first home game night of the 2023 calendar year, the Hat Tricks lost their first home game of the season and only the second regulation loss of the whole season in a 6-3 final against the Carolina Thunderbirds.
Carolina landed the only first period goal at the 16:30 mark of the frame when the FPHL’s leading scorer, Gus Ford, stayed hot as an oven in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen, scoring on a 2-1 to put the Thunderbirds up at the intermission.
Dustin Jesseau flipped the scoring with two beautiful goals in the second period. The first came only 1:06 into the frame on a shorthanded breakaway. The second came 6:53 in on a wicked solo skating effort to put the Hat Tricks in the lead 2-1.
From the 11:18 mark of the second until the 18:10 point, the Thunderbirds flipped the script and rattled off four straight goals by four different scorers. Josh Koepplinger had a seeing eye point shot to tie the game. Lucas Rowe extended his goal scoring streak to five games in a row at the 12:31 mark. Joseph Kennedy drew Brian Wilson from his net and scored on the backhand at 16:53. And Jan Salak potted a goal at 18:10 to extend the lead to 5-2 at the second intermission.
Jonny Ruiz offered pushback with a goal only 22 seconds into the third period and the Hat Tricks outshot Carolina 8-5 in the final stanza. But alas, Danbury could not get another puck through Mario Cavaliere, who stopped 24 of 27 shots, and John Buttita potted the empty netter to end the scoring at 6-3.
Brian Wilson stopped 21 of 26 shots on the Danbury net.
The Hat Tricks drop to 20-2-2 on the season and stay in first place in the Empire Division by five points over the Binghamton Black Bears.
Carolina improves to 16-6-1 and jumps Motor City into third place in the Continental Division.
The Hat Tricks and Thunderbirds meet again on Saturday night to conclude the two-game series.
Puck drops at 7 PM at the Danbury Arena.
Thunderbirds Extend Win Streak to Six Games
Hat Tricks Handed First Home Loss
by Brett Wiseman
Danbury, CT - The Carolina Thunderbirds picked up their sixth straight victory, and in the process handed the league's second-best team their first home loss of the season.
A courageous effort by a shorthanded Carolina club, who due to injuries and illness only started 10 forwards and 5 defensemen, ended in a 6-3 triumph over the Danbury Hat Tricks.
Gus Ford netted the only marker of the first period off the rush, beating Brian Wilson to the far side.
Danbury added two early in the second period, but the Thunderbirds were quick and swift to respond.
Josh Koepplinger banked a shot in off Wilson's blocker to tie the game, and then came a goal of the year candidate. Tucker Firth dangled through center, dropped off to Koepplinger, who left the puck for Rowe to do the rest. Rowe dusted a defender with a series of slick moves, and sniped one up high far side past Wilson to give Carolina the lead for good.
Joe Kennedy and Jan Salak buried goals of their own to finish off a four goal middle frame.
John Buttitta added an empty netter to seal the win late.
The Thunderbirds and Hat Tricks will battle once more on Saturday night to round out their 5 game season series, which is now tied at 2.