by Dillon Clark
Winston-Salem, NC – Though they took the first two contests of the weekend, the Carolina Thunderbirds failed to complete the weekend sweep against Watertown. A Justin MacDonald hat trick powered the Wolves to three points.
The Watertown captain was riding an 18-game point streak coming into Sunday night’s game, bumping it up to 19 games with a heavy wrist shot goal midway through the first period. Sunday was the first game of the weekend in which Watertown scored. Carolina wasted no time getting back into the game thanks to yet another Gus Ford goal just three minutes later. Forcing a turnover on the far side wall, Ford slipped into the low slot with the puck, rolling a backhand shot off the goaltender Chris Marsillo and into the net. Ahmed Mahfouz and Everett Thompson squared off toward the end of the period in a quick but fierce bout.
Entering the period in a 1-1 deadlock, the Thunderbirds looked to come out swinging and grab the lead. They did just that on a Cameron Dimmitt wrist shot from the top of the left circle three minutes into the period. Justin MacDonald wouldn’t allow the lead to stand for long, countering for Watertown 31 seconds later. Gus Ford fired a powerplay goal home from the top of the zone a few minutes later, giving Carolina another lead at 3-2.
Carolina’s 3-2 would be a difficult one to defend in the 3rd period. Ahmed Mahfouz intercepted a Matt Cousino pass, snapping a shot past goaltender Brandon Rozzi. Four minutes later, Colin Chmelka banged home a loose puck in the goal crease for the 4-3 lead. Mahfouz would add an empty net goal to stretch the deficit to two a few minutes later. Gus Ford took a high stick from Colin Chmelka, drawing blood and putting Carolina on the powerplay with less than three minutes left in regulation. Declan Conway managed to snap a shot past Marsillo to give Carolina life with 30 seconds left. Jason MacDonald completed the hat trick with a long-range empty net goal, dashing Carolina’s late-game hopes.
The Thunderbirds took two games on the weekend and five of a possible nine points. They draw Port Huron for a home-and-home next weekend, and three straight against the Prowlers the weekend after.