COLUMBUS RIVER DRAGONS at CAROLINA THUNDERBIRDS
FULL TEAM EFFORT LIFTS BIRDS OVER DRAGONS
by Brett Wiseman
Winston-Salem, NC - A full team effort from everyone in a Carolina Blackout sweater made the difference in a 4-2 triumph over the Columbus River Dragons in the fifth meeting between the two arch rivals this season.
Mario Cavaliere more than earned first star honors on the night, standing on his head and then some to stop 37 of 39 Columbus shots en route to the win.
After Columbus opened the scoring, Viktor Grebennikov banked a sharp angle shot off River Dragons goaltender Brendan Colgan and into the back of the net to tie the game at 1 midway through the first period.
Columbus edged ahead 2-1 after two periods of play, and controlled most of the possession through the middle frame. The turning point was during that second period, when the Thunderbirds miraculously killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 River Dragon power play. 1:35 seconds of the two man advantage were successfully killed off by a courageous Carolina unit. Shot blocks from Grebennikov, Tucker Firth, Blake Peavey, Jacob Schnapp and others plus marvelous saves by Cavaliere finished off the fantastic kill.
Carolina controlled and dominated possession in the third. John Buttitta deflected home the equalizer just 49 seconds into the final frame. A wicked one-timer from Firth on the power play 11 minutes later gave the Thunderbirds the lead and they never looked back. Gus Ford added his 31st goal of the season on the backhand two minutes after Firth's go ahead and eventual game winning goal to seal the deal.
The two rivals tangle again tomorrow night. Puck drop is set for 8:05.
THUNDERBIRDS RALLY IN THIRD TO DOWN RIVER DRAGONS 4-2
Kelly Scores 31st in Loss, Ties for League Lead
by Tom Callahan
Winston-Salem, NC - The Columbus River Dragons couldn’t hold off a furious third period rally by the Carolina Thunderbirds, falling 4-2 on Friday night at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds.
After building a 2-1 lead on goals by Jacob Kelly and Paul Fregeau, the River Dragons gave up three unanswered goals in the third period. Even with goaltender Breandan Colgan (25 saves) on the bench for the extra attacker, Columbus could not close the gap.
Kelly’s goal was his 31st of the season, tying him once again for the FPHL lead. Gus Ford also recorded his 31st goal of the season in the game for Carolina.
The same two teams are back at it Saturday night at a special 8 pm ET start. The AirForce Heating and Air Pregame Show starts at 7:30 pm on the Columbus River Dragons broadcast network.