Thunderbirds Sweep Prowlers
By Zak DeBeaussaert
Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds won Saturday night's contest against the Port Huron Prowlers thanks to a dominating effort across the lineup to take five out of six points on the weekend.
The Thunderbirds started the scoring early when Karel Drahorad blasted a shot that rang off of Cody Karpinski's glove and fell behind him for the game's opening goal 1:30 into the contest. Later in the first, Jan Salak would double the Carolina lead with a wrist shot over the glove hand of the Port Huron netminder and make the score 2-0 heading in to the locker room.
Port Huron wouldn't go down without a fight though and they clawed back to tie the game. First, Zachary Zulkanycz set up a goal by firing a puck off of Dalton Jay's shin pads that deflected in to cut the Thunderbirds' lead in half. Later in the second, Matyas Kasek found himself on a breakaway and for the second time on the weekend buried the puck, this time going five-hole on Christian Pavlas. With a 2-2 game in front of them, a spark came from Jay Croop who scored the game's next two goals before the intermission. 42 seconds after the Kasek tally Croop wrapped around the net, came up top, and rang one in off the far post to make it 3-2. Then, with 47 seconds left in the period, Croop drove the net and slid home a goal after Captain Josh Pietrantonio put the puck to the front for him to bury.
The third period was uneventful in part due to fatigue that might have been felt on the Port Huron side. Due to injuries the Prowlers dressed four less bodies than Carolina and that pressure may have been felt in the final period, as the game seemed to slow down a bit. The only goal of the frame was scored by Pietrantonio on a rebound coughed up by Karpinski at the side of the net for the Captain to slam home his 19th of the year.
Christian Pavlas got the win, stopping 24 of 26 shots in the game. Cody Karpinski took the loss with 52 saves on 58 shots.
Carolina now looks ahead to a weekend in Elmira with the FHL's #1 seed within their grasp. One regulation win in Elmira or three points in some combination over the three games will clinch home-ice advantage for the Thunderbirds through the Playoffs.
3 Stars of the Game:
Photo credit: V. Khouri