Thunderbirds Take Game One of FPHL's Best Matchup

By Jonathan Kliment 

Elmira, NY - The Elmira Enforcers and Carolina Thunderbirds reignited a rivalry that could be foreshadowing of the Commissioner's Cup Playoffs on Friday night. The Enforcers have only claimed one victory in the previous nine attempts, but that win came in their last meeting. Tonight kicked off a three-game series that would see the Thunderbirds get their revenge with a 4-1 victory in front of 2,538 fans at First Arena.

The first period was a hefty workload for Troy Passingham as he faced 24 shots from the number one team in the league. He was up for the task, allowing only one goal from Michael Bunn. The bigger story for the Enforcers was the lack of any offensive zone pressure. Being limited to only eight shots, they went to the locker room needing to find a way to increase shots on Carolina netminder Christian Pavlas. 

The second period turned into a bit more of the competitive matchup that the fans expected. A beautiful play to extend his scoring streak to 27 straight games gave Ahmed Mahfouz a power play goal when Glen Patterson backhanded a pass out to him in the slot and the Captain shoved it by Pavlas. Afterwards, Pavlas gave Mahfouz a shot with his blocker right in front of the net that sent both sides into a scrum that landed Pavlas and Joe Cangelosi in the box for Carolina and Mahfouz and Stepan Timofeyev in the box for Elmira. When both sides were released, the parties got right back into it as Timofeyev jumped to avoid a kneeled Pavlas, to which Mike Baker took exception. He went one-on-one with Timofeyev, while Mahfouz and Josh Pietrantonio had a battle to ensure another four-on-four session. With just 91 seconds to go in the period, Carolina would be the beneficiary of a bad bounce and put another by Passingham to reclaim the lead going into the third. 

The third period saw a lot of back and forth, but lacked any excitement on the scoreboard for the home team. The Enforcers kept pushing, but when they tried to pull their netminder for the advantage, Mike Baker threw the puck 200 feet and cashed in on the empty net. With Passingham back in goal the Thunderbirds had an odd man rush, and a rebound slipped by him to give Carolina a 4-1 victory. 

The Enforcers will look for retribution from the Thunderbirds tomorrow night as the two teams play game two of a three-game series at 7:05 PM at First Arena. Get your tickets now and collect strip #2 of the first ever Enforcers trading card set.

Photo credit: Curtis Berleue Photography