by Dillon Clark
Winston-Salem, NC – In the third of a three game weekend against the Danbury Hat Tricks, the Carolina Thunderbirds fell in overtime. It was the second time this season that Danbury has beaten Carolina in an overtime game at home. After collecting a point in the loss, the Thunderbirds tallied seven of a possible nine points on the weekend.
Contrary to the previous two games, it was Danbury who would score the first goal of the evening. Tim Perks scored his 3rd goal of the weekend out of a goalmouth scramble, after Evan Morrison made two dazzling saves on Dustin Jesseau. It wouldn’t take the Thunderbirds long to find the scoresheet, even while shorthanded. With Blake Peavey in the box for holding, Daniel Martin found Jacob Schnapp on a 2-on-1 to tie the game. Schnapp’s 6th of the year sent Carolina back to the dressing room with a 1-1 score despite being outshot 17 to eight.
To this point in the weekend, the Thunderbirds had outscored Danbury 6-2 in the second period. They continued their middle-frame-magic with two more goals on Sunday evening. Dawson Baker deposited a pass from Jacob Schnapp behind McClendon to make it a 2-1 game. The goal came after McClendon mishandled a puck, giving it right back to Schnapp. Later in the period, the Thunderbirds had extended time in the offensive zone. On the rebound of a Jiri Pestuka shot, Tommy Cardinal gave Carolina a two-goal lead.
While the second period was Carolina’s bread and butter, the 3rd was especially kind to Danbury. Despite a Devin Warfield goal, the Hat Tricks powered back with three goals of their own. Cory Anderson’s powerplay goal began the scoring for the Hat Tricks. After that, Jonny Ruiz set up Tyler Morin’s first FPHL goal to bring Danbury within one. With McClendon pulled and just 21.3 seconds left on the clock, Jonny Ruiz found the back of the net for the third straight night and sent the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Thunderbirds came inches from taking the victory. John Buttitta forced Frankie McClendon to make an athletic save, and Gus Ford nearly deposited the rebound. Jonny Ruiz made the save of the game, sliding through the blue paint to deny Ford. That sent Danbury back the other way, and Dustin Jesseau would carry the puck into the slot and fire home the game winning goal.
Carolina has points in four straight games, and looks ahead to a weekend in Watertown starting on the 7th of the month. The Thunderbirds remain in 4th place in the FPHL.