Thunderbirds Unleash Offense, take down Port Huron

by Drew Blevins

PORT HURON, Mich.- The Carolina Thunderbirds, proud members of the Federal Prospects Hockey League, trounced the Port Huron Prowlers 8-2 on Friday night at McMorran Arena.

 “It’s the first big step for our team,” said head coach Andre Niec, “We have areas we need to work on but that was big for the boys.”

 Fred Hein opened the scoring just 2:33 into the first period, marking his second goal of the season. Hein picked the shortside corner on Prowlers starter Kurt Gutting and the Birds never looked back.

 “It felt good,” said Hein, “I received some good passes tonight and I thought the game just came to me.”

 Roshen Jaswal would add a goal on the powerplay 13 minutes into the first on a pinballing shot from the point. For Jaswal, it’s his first professional goal since graduating from St. Olaf College last year.

 In the second period, the floodgates opened for the Thunderbirds. Jiri Pestuka blew by a Prowlers defenseman and beat Gutting clean on a glove-side wrist shot. Then, Petr Panacek scored back-to-back goals to make it 5-0.

“Johnny [Salak] found me with a good pass in front that I tipped in,” said Panacek. Prior to tonight, Panacek had not scored on the season.

 Justin Portillo blasted a slapshot by Nick Modica late in the second to put Port Huron on the board.

 Modica would end the night with 35 saves on 37 shots and earned his second win of the season.

 In the third, Tommy Tsicos made Port Huron pay for taking two quick penalties. He split the defense and scored on the backhand to ballon Carolina’s lead to 6-1.

 Jon Buttitta would add a pair of assists down the stretch, feeding Hein for a pair of goals in the third to complete Hein’s hat trick.

“It’s funny, we’re not on the same line, but the way the changes worked out he just found me,” said Hein.

 Port Huron would tally one in the period with Thomas Munichiello scoring his second of the season from Dalton Young.

 “I finally hit the ocean from the beach,” said Panacek, “this is an important win.”

 Carolina advances to 1-4-1-1 in the FPHL standings while sending the Prowlers to 3-6-0-1.

 “We can build on this,” said Niec, “but now it is time for our boys to take the next step.”

 The Thunderbirds will faceoff with Port Huron again tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. from McMorran Arena in Port Huron.

 3 Stars

3) Jiri Pestuka

2) Petr Panacek

1) Fred Hein