Thunderbirds Win Barn Burner Against Dashers

By Zak DeBeaussaert 

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds won the first half of a home-and-home series with the Danville Dashers in spectacular offensive fashion on Friday night.

The scoring got started early when Jan Salak buried a pass from Josh Pietrantonio across the slot to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead 3:45 into the game. Salak's goal also sent hundreds of stuffed animals raining down to the ice on Teddy Bear Toss Night, benefiting Children's Home Services of North Carolina. After that fast start, Danville matched Carolina's intensity well enough, but couldn't solve Christian Pavlas. Stan Vlasov would double Carolina's lead midway through the first with a missile that went in after ringing off the right post. Danville got one back at the end of the first period when Eric Masters scored his first goal of the season on a 2-on-1 set up by Stephen Gaul. With that goal at the 18:52 mark of the first period, it ended a streak of 164:13 that Christian Pavlas had held opponents scoreless.

The floodgates opened in the second period with eight goals total being scored. Beau Walker started the scoring two minutes into the frame with a nice forehand-backhand deke through the five-hole of Blake Scott. Petr Panacek would add another goal 49 seconds later to extend Carolina's lead to 4-1. Carolina wasn't done in that spree though. Jan Salak scored his second of the game to cap off a three goal run at 4:21. Down 5-1 and facing a shorter bench (Danville had to bring in two emergency contracts in this game to fill out a minimum bench size), the Dashers had some luck on their side when a Dustin Henning dump in took a crazy bounce in front of Christian Pavlas and beat him over the left shoulder from about 90 feet out.  Henning scored his third goal of the year and didn't even know it until he turned around after the line change. Danville added another goal two and a half minutes later when Stephen Gaul scored off a good pass from Masters; Taylor Cutting also got an assists on the play. Just when the game started to cool off at 5-3, the floodgates opened again with three goals in the latter stages of the second period. Jay Croop scored his second of the season on a bit of a knuckle puck that fooled Scott with less than 5 minutes to play in the frame. Croop's power play tally was matched by Alex Basey's power play goal 1:09 later, and the score was 6-4. Everett Thompson rushed the right wing with less than 10 seconds left in the period, getting by a defenseman, and fed a beautiful sauce pass to Peter Cicmanec who buried it at 19:56.

Entering the third with a 7-4 score, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that he Thunderbirds would score 10 for the first time in their existence. However, a scoreless period was given a sour note near the end when Alex Basey was thrown out of the game for butt-ending Everett Thompson in the face, sending Thompson to the locker room early for repairs. Basey was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct.

Carolina extends their winning streak to five games behind Christian Pavlas' sixth victory of the season. Pavlas stopped 20 of 24 shots in the win. Blake Scott takes the loss in his first start as a Dasher, stopping 48 of 55 shots.

Carolina now hits the road for the second half of their home-and-home with Danville, playing at the David S. Palmer Arena for the first time this season. Puck drop is 8:05 PM EST, with a 7:40 start to pregame on the Carolina Thunderbirds Radio Network.

3 Stars of the Game:
Petr Panacek
Beau Walker
Jan Salak 

Attendance: 2,395

Photo credit: V. Khouri