PORT HURON PROWLERS at CAROLINA THUNDERBIRDS
Thunderbirds Pick Up Fifth Straight Win, 4-1, over Port Huron
Ford and Baker pick up two points each in victory
by Brendan Reilly
Winston-Salem, NC - Coming off four straight victories, the Carolina Thunderbirds never trailed Friday night at home, taking down the Port Huron Prowlers, 4-1, at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex.
Carolina (9-2-0) came out quickly putting the pressure on Port Huron (5-5-1) with an early flurry resulting in Nate Keeley’s first FPHL goal of his career at the 8:30 mark of the first period. The Claresholm, Alberta native ripped one of the bar and in beating Makar Sokolov giving the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
In the second period, Carolina wasted no time extending the lead. Dawson Baker found Gus Ford behind the Prowlers defense and beat Sokolov doubling the advantage, 2-0. With the assist, Baker picked up his 100thcareer point in his third season in the FPHL. With a 2-0 lead, Carolina continued to hold the two-goal advantage going into the third period despite Joe Kennedy getting a game misconduct at the 16:17 mark of the second.
In the third period, Port Huron broke through. On the power play, Brandon Picard beat Mario Cavaliere for his seventh goal of the year, cutting the lead in half, 2-1. The Thunderbirds held onto the lead and in the final five minutes put the visitors away.
Petr Panacek found Jiri Pestuka in the slot and the two Czech natives combined for Carolina’s third goal at the 17:33 point in the third, extending the lead back to two, 3-1. 28 seconds later with Port Huron’s net empty, Baker picked up an empty net goal from his own blue line, finishing off the Prowlers, 4-1.
Carolina with the win picked up its fifth straight victory dating back to November 17th and have now defeated Port Huron in four straight matchups.
The Thunderbirds and Prowlers meet for game two on Saturday evening at the Annex. Puck drop is slated for 6:05 p.m. from Winston-Salem.
PROWLERS FALL IN CAROLINA
by Will Wiegelman
Winston-Salem, NC - The Port Huron Prowlers dropped the first game of their three-in-three with the Carolina Thunderbirds 4-1 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex on Dec. 1. Carolina extends its win streak to five games.
"Today was disappointing," said Prowlers' assistant coach Chris Paulin. "That's a rivalry game, that's a team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year and I didn't think we started very well. I thought we played really well in the third period but against a good team like Carolina, it's going to take more than 20 minutes to beat them. I think tomorrow we need to be a lot more prepared and we will be."
Nate Keeley opened the scoring with his first as a pro in the first as he fired a wrist shot over Makar Sokolov’s glove in the first. Gus Ford extended the lead 19 seconds into the middle frame off a pass from Dawson Baker.
With Joe Kennedy off with a five-minute major, Brandon Picard fired a laser past Mario Cavaliere’s blocker to cut the lead in half 38 seconds into the third. It was Picard’s team-high seventh of the year.
That 2-1 score held until late when Jiri Pestuka scored the dagger off the rush with 2:27 to go. Baker hit the empty net to cap it off.
Matt Graham and Sam Marit got the assists on Picard’s goal and Sokolov made 34 saves in his first loss of the season.
"I thought [Sokolov] played excellent," Paulin said. "I thought he gave us a chance to win. It's a team sport, you need everyone kicking, all 18 guys, but I thought Makar played really well. He's been solid for us all season."
Ford and Baker finished with a goal and an assist apiece while Cavaliere stopped 25 Prowler shots in the victory.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Dec. 2 at 6:05 P.M. and will be broadcast live on the PHP Network YouTube channel.
"We need to be a little bit more prepared," Paulin said. "I told the guys afterward that it's on the coaching staff to make sure they're prepared. I thought tonight, we were a little bit underprepared, so that's our fault. We'll go in and make sure the group is prepared for tomorrow night. [We need to] start the game with a sense of urgency, which we did not have tonight and I thought we were outplayed for 40 minutes and we, honestly, deserved the fate we got."