by Dillon Clark
Winston-Salem, NC – For the second consecutive night, the Carolina Thunderbirds racked up a regulation win against Port Huron. This time, goals from seven unique scorers and a 45 save performance from Chris Paulin pushed Carolina to a 7-2 win.
In Friday night’s contest, Carolina came out flat and allowed three goals in the first period. They didn’t start particularly strong Saturday night, but were held in the game by 16 saves from Chris Paulin, including several desperation saves. Thought the period ended scoreless, Port Huron held a 16-10 shot advantage, and a slight edge in momentum.
Carolina’s sticks woke up in the second, beginning with that of Declan Conway. After Everett Thompson waited patiently at the Prowler blue line, Conway took the pass on a short breakaway, sliding the puck past Joe Noonan. Adam Morgan would respond a few minutes later, taking advantage of a defensive breakdown by the Thunderbirds and tying the game at 1-1. David Nicoletti managed to deflect home a Blake Peavey wrist shot just over a minute later, giving Carolina the 2-1 lead and starting a brief onslaught. Gus Ford found his way back into the goal column. The leading Carolina goal scorer slipped his way down the right wing, cut across the slot and waited long enough to send a backhand shot that Noonan was already down on the ice. Cody Oakes joined the party just seconds later, sliding a wraparound past Noonan for the 4-1 lead.
Stavros Soilis opened the 3rd period scoring for Port Huron, putting pressure on the Thunderbirds and closing the gap to two goals. Minutes later, the Thunderbirds were guilty of a dangerous turnover in their own end and were bailed out by Paulin. On the ensuing play, Carolina then capitalized on an almost identical turnover by Port Huron, with John Buttitta finding the loose puck. Viktor Grebennikov scored his first goal since mid-November moments later, and Blake Peavey would cash in with a shorthanded goal to reach the final score of 7-2.
The Thunderbirds have won consecutive games against Port Huron for the second time this year and lead the season series 4-2. They return to Port Huron next weekend for three straight games against the Prowlers.