by Dillon Clark
Winston-Salem, NC – The Carolina Thunderbirds fell 4-2 at home Saturday night, falling for the second straight night to the River Dragons. The loss prolongs Carolina’s streak to six games without a regulation loss.
The game that served as Josh Pietrantonio’s Winston-Salem homecoming wound up scoreless through its first 20 minutes. Aside from a trio of minor penalties, it was an otherwise uneventful first period. Goaltenders Nick Modica and Jared Rutledge held down their respective forts, stopping 15 and 14 shots respectively.
John Buttitta’s hooking minor to end the frame would have carryover effects in the 2nd. With the Thunderbirds center in the box, Jagger Williamson caught a pass from Jay Croop in front of the goal, went between his legs, and flipped it past Modica for the game’s opening goal. Williamson’s tally is his second in as many games against the Thunderbirds. After a quiet 1st period, the 2nd laid way to seven minor penalties and two double minors. Despite this, neither team could capitalize on any of the several penalties taken in that period. Through 40 minutes, Columbus goaltender Jared Rutledge had stopped all 26 shots sent his way.
The Thunderbirds had a carryover powerplay going into the third, with Edgars Ozolins serving the second of a double minor for roughing. On the powerplay, Jiri Pestuka would collect the puck atop the left wing hash marks before sending a backdoor pass onto the tape of John Buttitta. His powerplay goal tied the game at 1-1, and gave the Thunderbirds a much needed breath.
The relief didn’t last long for Carolina. In his return to Winston-Salem, Josh Pietrantoio would bury a rebound behind Nick Modica at 5:51 of the third to give Columbus the lead. Jagger Williamson and Noah Doyle would cash in with a pair of goals just moments apart later in the frame. Despite a late goal from David Nicoletti, Carolina’s comeback would stall at 4-2. Nick Modica would stop 40 shots in the loss, gainin third star honors. Jared Rutledge’s 32 of 34 brough him the second star of the game, and Pietrantonio being named first.
Carolina and Columbus will face one another one last time in the month of November. They meet Wednesday night back at the Columbus Civic Center.