by Brett Wiseman

Winston-Salem, NC - Facing elimination in front of 2,944 fans at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, the Carolina Thunderbirds put together their most courageous and determined effort of the year. Petr Panacek ended a marathon Game 2 with a power play goal at the 13:13 mark of the second overtime to save the season and force a Game 3 back at the Annex tomorrow afternoon.

Carolina fell behind 3-0 after the first period again in game 2, just as they did a night before in game 1. The response was not the same. 

Viktor Grebennikov banked a backhand shot off the skate of Brendan Colgan to cut the Columbus lead to 3-1 early in the second. Cody Rodgers replied for the River Dragons with a wraparound goal less than two minutes later.

Less than a minute after Rodgers' goal, Josh Koepplinger, who had just been freed from a roughing minor, sniped a wrist shot past Colgan to cut the deficit back to 2.

Exactly 4 minutes into the third, Brendan Hussey put a series of moves on Colgan and beat him right on the doorstep for his first of the postseason to cut the Columbus lead to just 1.

Lucas Rowe tied the game at 4 at the 14:39 mark of the third. Paul Frageau responded for Columbus to make it 5-4 just 18 seconds later. Panacek counterpunched Frageau with the goal that forced overtime at the 15:58 marker of the third. 

The two teams will face off in a winner-take-all Game 3 for the right to go to the Commissioner's Cup Final tomorrow afternoon. Puck drop is set for 4:05 at the Annex. Tickets are available at the Annex Box Office, or by calling 336-748-3949.

Sunday 4:05 pm Faceoff To Decide Continental Division Playoff Series
by Tom Callahan

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds overcame a 3-0 first period deficit to force double overtime and won 6-5 on Petr Panacek’s second goal of the game to conclude the longest game in FPHL history.

Columbus raced out to a 3-0 first period lead on a pair of goals by captain Josh Pietrantonio and one more from Alexander Jmaeff, but over the final 40 minutes the Thunderbirds clawed back into the contest and tied it on Panacek’s first goal of the game to force overtime at 15:58 of the third period.

The first power play of the extra session was granted to the Thunderbrids in double overtime, and Panacek cashed in on a rebound chance to the left of Columbus goaltender Breandan Colgan (61 saves) to win the game and force a deciding Game Three on Sunday at 4:05 pm ET in Winston-Salem.

Columbus also received goals from Cody Rodgers and Paul Fregeau in the loss, the River Dragons’ first of the playoffs.

The winner tomorrow will go on to represent the Continental Division in the Commissioner’s Cup Final against the winner of the Danbury Hat Tricks and Binghamton Black Bears, which will also see a deciding Game Three played on Monday evening.



by Chris Lynch

Danbury, CT - The Danbury Hat Tricks returned home in the pouring rain early Saturday morning after a 6-1 defeat in Binghamton against the Black Bears. The team turned around and rallied for a spirited win in front of a standing room crowd at the Danbury Ice Arena, with a 5-2 final. 

Following a physical and goalless first period, Danbury notched the first goal of the game early in the second off the snapshot from Michael Marchesan. The former Black Bear recorded his first goal of the series and fourth of the postseason. Danbury followed up that tally with continued postseason power play success when Jonny Ruiz extended the lead to 2-0 with 6:01 left in the stanza. 

Binghamton got one back courtesy of Donald Olivieri on a power play shot that snuck through Brian Wilson, but Danbury still led 2-1 at intermission. 

Billy McCreary’s team came onto the ice for the third period with an air of desperation in the third period and started the scoring 1:08 into the frame, with Jacob Ratcliffe doing the honors. Binghamton pulled the goalie to reduce the deficit again to 3-2, courtesy of Mac Lewis, but could not completely close the gap. Jonny Ruiz and Tobias Odjick landed empty net goals to close the scoring at 5-2. 

Brian Wilson stopped 33 of 35 shots in the Danbury net. Talor Joseph recorded 32 saves, including several ten-bell saves, on 35 shots faced. 

Danbury ties the series at one game a piece and extends the semifinals to Game Three on Monday, May 1st at the Danbury Ice Arena. The winner advances to the Commissioner’s Cup Finals. 

Puck drops for Game 3 at 7 PM.  


by Brooks Hill

Danbury, CT - The Binghamton Black Bears fell on the road in game two of the semifinals, 5-2 on Saturday night. Binghamton’s late surge was thwarted by two Danbury empty net goals, pushing the score further away from how the game was played.

With their backs against the wall, Danbury came out of the gates buzzing. Talor Joseph was able to weather the storm, turning aside 14 shots in the first period. The Black Bears were able to put up 11 of their own but Brian Wilson stood tall in his crease. Through 20 minutes, nobody was able to crack the scoreboard. 

Early in the second, that story would change. Danbury’s Michael Marchesan stole a puck at the blue line as about to score on a partial breakaway, giving the Hat Tricks a 1-0 lead. 10 minutes would by, then the home team earned the first power play of the game. Jonny Ruiz was able to score 40 seconds into the man-advantage, doubling the Danbury lead. A quick answer came from Binghamton as Don Olivieri scored another power play goal, cutting the lead in half. Danbury held a 2-1 lead after two periods. 

The Hat Tricks came out the locker room hot in the third. Jacob Ratcliffe scored at the 1:08 mark, reclaiming Danbury’s two-goal lead. Binghamton was forced to chase the game in the third. Mac Lewis was able to score an extra-attacker goal with two and a half remaining, but Danbury was able to add two more empty netters, securing the game two victory and staying off elimination. 

A winner-take-all, game three will be played on Monday, May 1st, at 7:00p.m. hosted by the Danbury Hat Tricks. For the second-straight season, Danbury and Binghamton will play a game three.