by Dillon Clark
Winston-Salem N.C. – The Carolina Thunderbirds opened the 2021-2022 season with a win Friday night, dispatching the Delaware Thunder by a score of 8-3. The win comes as head coach Garrett Rutledge’s first in the FPHL.
A penalty-laden night began early with the Thunder’s Rick Eberhart taking a hooking minor at 1:36. The Thunderbirds wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as Cameron Dimmitt rifled home the first Thunderbirds goal of the season. The goal also served as Dimmitt’s first goal in a Thunderbirds uniform. Later in the frame, Viktor Grebennikov beat Thunder goaltender Anthony Pupplo on a broken play rebound. In the final second of a Thunderbirds powerplay, the Thunder would go for a line change, leaving Joe Cangelosi open at the side of the net to bury a shorthanded goal. The New Jersey native and veteran Thunderbird found himself in the right place at the right time just three minutes later, as he redirected a Chris Hunt shot for his second goal of the period.
Entering the second period down 4-0, the Thunder began to push back and manufacture some solid chances against Thunderbirds goaltender Chris Paulin. Midway through the period, tempers would overflow and Tory McLean dropped the gloves with Delaware’s JC Moritz. The fight would spur even more offense from both sides. Jiri Pestuka and Brandon Logan would cash in for Carolina, chasing Thunder goaltender Anthony Pupplo and turing the net over to Trevor Babin. Rick Eberhart would answer for the Thunder with a powerplay goal to end the period.
Bryan Moore would register his first goal as a Thunderbird in the 3rd period, with John Buttitta cashing in as well. Adam Morgan would beat Chris Paulin two more times to bring the game to an 8-3 final score. Chris Paulin finished the night with 32 saves on 35 shots, while backup goaltender Trevor Babin stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced in 28:06 of action.
Carolina and Delaware will tangle again on Saturday night, with puck drop slated for 6:05pm.