Thunderbirds Even Series With Ice Breakers

By Zak DeBeaussaert 

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds got themselves back into the win column and back atop the FHL standings with a 6-5 win over the Mentor Ice Breakers on Thanksgiving night. 

Carolina jumped out to a lead, thanks to a strong chunk of offensive zone time in the middle to late stages of the first period where the Thunderbirds tallied three goals in a span of 2:49. The newest Thunderbird Beau Walker scored the first two to endear himself to his new fan base; meanwhile, Dominik Fejt capped off the three-goal rally with a shot from the right point that deflected off an Ice Breaker on the way through past Mentor netminder Matt Camilleri. 

Carolina would continue their goal streak when Artur Drindrozhik slammed home a puck on the back door after a Michael Bunn slapshot rebounded hard off the backboards and Camilleri had no chance to get back in time. The Ice Breakers got themselves on the board at the 8:18 mark of the second period when Tim Perks scored his second goal in as many nights, taking an errant pass from a Thunderbirds defenseman and slotting it five-hole past Frankie McClendon. Chase Fallis knocked in a loose puck dropped by Camilleri for a power play goal, and the Thunderbirds were rolling through 40 minutes up, 5-1. 

The third period saw a crazy reversal of fortune when the Ice Breakers drew back within two courtesy of two goals scored by Patrick Porkka, his first and second goals of the year. 30 seconds after Porkka's second goal, Beau Walker came inches away from securing a hat trick on his debut, but rang it off the post and the rebound was covered by Camilleri. After the whistle a massive gathering broke out in the Ice Breakers zone that saw Jan Salak and Ivan Vilcauskas off for fighting and Josh Pietrantonio and Richard Pinkowski were dinged each for 12 minutes after being assessed misconducts. With the teams shorthanded on the benches and lines being juggled, the game moved with good flow through the middle of the frame. The Thunderbirds would find themselves on the penalty kill when Everett Thompson took an elbowing penalty with about five minutes left in the game. Mentor would cash in on that power play, courtesy of Tim Perks, who scored his second of the night to bring the Ice Breakers back within one. The Thunderbirds answered back 33 seconds later when Karel Drahorad fired one in from the right point and gave the Thunderbirds back their two-goal lead. Nearly a minute later the 2,054 fans in the Annex were treated to yet another fight, this time with Domink Fejt dropping the gloves against Vilcauskas. The crowd was quickly quieted though, as eight seconds later the Ice Breakers' Brett Oldaker brought it back to a one goal game at 6-5. The scoring would conclude there, as Carolina's forechecking line of Josh Pietrantonio, Jan Salak, and Beau Walker kept the puck hemmed into the Ice Breakers zone in the final minute and never allowed Camilleri to leave the net for the extra attacker. 

Frankie McClendon made 23 saves on 28 shots in the win, while Matt Camilleri stopped 22 of 28 shots in the loss.

The two teams now look ahead to Saturday night when the tiebreaker of this 3-game holiday weekend series will take place at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex at 6:05 PM. Tickets are still available by heading to the Fairgrounds box office or online at TicketMaster. 

3 Stars of the Game:
Chase Fallis
Beau Walker
Josh Pietrantonio

Attendance: 2,054

Photo credit: V. Khouri