by Dillon Clark
Winston-Salem, N.C.— After an impressive opening weekend, the Carolina Thunderbirds dropped their contest against the Watertown Wolves on Friday night by a score of 6-4. With that result, both teams now find themselves at 2-1-0-0 on the season.
The night began favorably for Carolina, not unlike either of its contests against Delaware last weekend. With Zach Huggins in the Watertown penalty box, Daniel Martin would slam home a powerplay goal just 3:18 into the game. It was Martin’s first tally in a Thunderbirds uniform since early 2020. The Canadian winger wouldn’t stop there, adding his second of the season just nine minutes later and putting Carolina in the driver’s seat.
Watertown would counter with a pair of goals later in the period from Alexander Jmaeff and Justin MacDonald, tying the game at 2-2. Martin’s third goal of the game on an Everett Thompson assist brought the crowd to a roar, and sent the Thunderbirds to the dressing room with a 3-2 lead.
The middle frame would be where Watertown ultimately won this game, skating Carolina into submission. Colin Chmelka’s goal less than four minutes into the period would tie the game at three and was a sign of things to come. Lane King’s goal at 9:01 brought Watertown its first lead of the game. Justin MacDonald would add another goal with 30 seconds remaining in the period (originally credited to Troy Taylor). At the end of the period, Watertown had outshot Carolina 18-9 in the frame, and led 5-3. Bryan Moore and Zach Huggins’ fight brought energy back to a frustrated building, but ultimately couldn’t get Carolina out of its scoring struggles.
Period three was largely even until the Wolves took a too many men on the ice penalty with eight minutes left in regulation. Jiri Pestuka’s point blast would bring Carolina to within a goal, but was for naught after Justin MacDonald completed the his own hat trick on the powerplay to put things away at 6-4. MacDonald would finish the night with three goals and an assist, netting him second star honors.
The Thunderbirds and Wolves drop the puck on their Saturday night rematch at 6:05 in Winston-Salem.