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by Al Kessler

Winston-Salem, NC 

The Carolina Thunderbirds capped off a successful inaugural season with a home contest against the Port Huron Prowlers. Carolina enters action having won 2 in a row against the Prowlers, both games were 4-1 scores. It’s only the 2nd time this season the Prowlers have lost 2 consecutive games in regulation, and they are trying to stave off a 3rd on Saturday night.

For Port Huron they would start Michael Santaguida in net. The rookie from Crystal Lake, Illinois suffered his 1st regulation loss of the season last Saturday against the Thunderbirds and now have a 22-1-1 record alongside a 2.25 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. For Carolina Christian Pavlas would get the start for a 2nd night in a row, now with a 4.3-goals against average and a .891 save percentage to go with his 10-15-1 record. Since joining the Thunderbirds however, Pavlas is 8-5-1 with a 3.19 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, and he has won his last 3 games for Carolina.

For the first time in 2 games the Prowlers would find their offensive legs and take it to the Thunderbirds. Just 4:27 into the period Jonathan Juliano would find the back of the net with a one-handed tip of the puck into the net. Matt Graham and Yianni Liarakos would assist on the goal, 1-0 Port Huron. The teams would continue to battle, and at 9:15 Shea Carey would take a slashing minor, but the Prowlers league-best penalty-kill was up to the task. The same line for the Prowlers would strike again at 15:35 of the period when Juliano would find Graham in front. Graham’s shot would beat Pavlas to make it 2-0 Port Huron, Yianni Liarakos again assisting on the goal. The teams would skate 2-0 into the 1st intermission, with the Thunderbirds out-shooting the Prowlers 23-13.

In the 2nd period the teams would skate end-to-end trading chances frequently. Just 14 seconds into the period Thunderbird captain Josh Pietrantonio would take a high-sticking minor-penalty, but the Thunderbirds penalty-kill would stay strong and kill off the infraction. Shortly after the Prowlers would have another chance when Vojtech Zemlicka would trip Matt Robertson, but again the Prowlers could not make a dent on the power-play. The penalties would turn on the Prowlers however, and at 11:48 Pace Jr would take a holding minor, but the Prowlers would kill it off. Later in the period however Ondrej Misovic would take a tripping minor, followed by a Pace Jr Slashing minor 23 seconds late. On the 5-on-3 power-play CJ Blaszka would beat Santaguida, cutting the Prowler lead in half with just 14 seconds remaining. The score would be 2-1 after 2, with Carolina out-shooting the Prowlers 46-29. The Thunderbirds would have a carry-over power-play of 47 seconds headed into the 3rd period as well.

In the 3rd period Matt Coleman would score just 1:40 into the period to give Port Huron a 2-goal lead once again. Stepan Timofeyev and Shea Carey would assist on the goal. Just 25 seconds later Tommy Tsicos would score to make it a 1-goal game once again, with Stanislav Vlasov assisting on the goal. The teams would continue to battle, but late in the period the Prowlers would all but ice the game. Branden Parkhouse would tap the puck past Pavlas to make it 4-2. His Prowlers would handle the Thunderbirds attack and skate to a historic 4-2 victory.

In the loss Pavlas would stop 35 of 39 while Santaguida would turn aside 61 of 63.

Notable Stats

The Prowlers set the record for the most wins and most points in a regular season with the win.

Attendance:3,017.

What’s Coming Up

The Thunderbirds Coaches show will continue on Tuesday the 10th on WTOB, the flagship station for Thunderbirds Hockey. Tune in with Scott Brand, Al Kessler, and Andre Niec as they break down the regular season and preview the upcoming playoff series.

Wednesday and Thursday, the 11th and 12th of April, the Thunderbirds will be practicing at the Greensboro Ice House. The practices will be open to the public and will run from 10:00 am to 11:15 am each morning.

The Thunderbirds will finish the regular season in 3rd place in the FHL, locking in a 1st round playoff battle against the Watertown Wolves. The series will begin on Friday, April 13th as the higher-seeded Wolves will visit Winston-Salem to take on the Thunderbirds. Tickets are now on sale on Ticketmaster and at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Box Office. Game 1 of the 3-game series will start at 7:35 pm at the Annex, with the doors opening one-hour prior. Afterwards the Thunderbirds will travel north to Watertown for game 2 of the series. The puck will drop on Saturday the 14th at 7:30 pm from the Watertown Municipal Ice Arena and you can hear the Honda of Winston-Salem pre-game show starting at 7:05 pm est on the Thunderbirds Radio Network. If necessary the deciding game 3 will be played Sunday the 15th in Watertown and will be a 4:00 pm puck drop, with the Honda of Winston-Salem pre-game show starting at 3:35 pm.

In addition, season tickets for the 2018-2019 regular season will go on sale on Thursday, April 5th. To reserve your seats for Thunderbirds hockey or for more information, please visit www.carolinathunderbirds.com or call 336-774-GOAL(4625).

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