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by Al Kessler

How It Happened

It’s a do-or-die game for the Carolina Thunderbirds entering action on Saturday night in Watertown, New York. After dropping game 1 of the series at home in overtime, the two teams would skate from the Watertown Municipal Ice Arena. Carolina would need a win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive in their inaugural season.

Carolina would go with Christian Pavlas again in between the pipes, who would save 48 in the OT loss on Friday night. For the Wolves Cody Karpinski would get the start. The Chicago, Illinois native would replace Sebastien Dube-Rochon on Friday and earn the win after stopping all 26 shots.

The teams would play to a frantic pace during the 1st period, with precious few stoppages during the first 10 minutes. At 10:24 however a shot by Aleh Shypitsyn would rebound off of Christian Pavlas right onto the stick of Tyler Gjurich. The league’s leading scorer during the regular season would make no mistake and make it 1-0 Watertown. It is Gjurich’s 2nd goal of the playoffs, with John Scully getting credit for the secondary assist. The Thunderbirds would counter-attack however and spend nearly 2 full minutes of time in the Wolves defensive zone. The pressure would culminate in Tommy Tsicos beating Cody Karpinski short-side to tie the game at 1. The goal by the former Cornwall National was set up by Ray Boudiette after a pass from behind the net, with Vojtech Zemlicka getting credit for the secondary assist. Jay Kenney of Carolina would take a slashing minor at 16:45 of the period, but the Carolina penalty-kill would be up to task. Late though, with just 12 seconds remaining, Jan Salak would be assessed a tripping minor, giving the Wolves 1:48 of power-play time headed into the 2nd period. Watertown would also edge Carolina 9 to 8 in shots during the period.

Carolina would kill off the Wolves penalty to start the period, and quickly get a man-advantage chance of their own. Gavin Yates would be assessed for high-sticking at 2:56 of the period, and as soon as he would exit the box his teammate Kyle Powell would take a cross-checking minor. On both penalties the Thunderbirds were unable to convert, and soon would find themselves back in penalty trouble. At 9:04 of the period Rick O’Connor would take a hooking minor, but this time it would be Carolina’s defense up to the task. Late in the period the Thunderbirds would be on the rush and a centering attempt by Joe Cangelosi from behind the goal line would tip in past Karpinski to give the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead. Jan Salak and Josh Pietrantonio would assist on the goal, Cangelosi’s 1st of the playoffs. Carolina would skate with a 2-1 advantage into the intermission, leading in shots 24-15.

Special teams would factor into the 3rd period early as just 4:56 in Matt Caranci would take an interference call, prompting a wave of penalties to follow. Over the following 5 minutes the teams would trade power-play chances for mere seconds at a time, until finally nearly half-way through the period the teams would skate 5-on-5. At 12:55 of the period Stanislav Vlasov would take a hooking minor-penalty, and for the first time in the series, a team would capitalize on the power-play. Cameron Dimmitt would push his way through a face-off circle to push the puck past Pavlas and tie the game at 2. Nicola Levesque and Tyler Gjurich would assist on the power-play goal at 14:39 of the period, Dimmitt’s 1st of the playoffs. The teams would skate tied into overtime for the second night in a row. The Wolves would out-shoot Carolina in the 3rd 12-5 but would still trail 29-27.

The teams would battle to a stalemate during the 1st overtime frame and head tied into a 2nd overtime period, with Watertown leading in shots 11-7 during the period, and overall now 38-36. During the 2nd overtime frame a take-away in center ice would send Nicola Levesque in on a 2-on-1 break after a crisp pass from Cameron Dimmitt. Gavin Yates would score to end the contest with 16:34 left in the game.

Notable Stats

Josh Pietrantonio’s assist on Joe Cangelosi’s 2nd period goal is the Thunderbirds captain’s 5th point of the post-season. This ties the amount of points he would score in the 2017 playoffs with Berlin. In that post-season he had 5 points in 7 games, he now has 5 points in 2.

At 83 minutes and 26 the game is the longest in FHL history.


What’s Coming Up

Season tickets for the 2018-2019 regular season are now on sale. To reserve your seats for Thunderbirds hockey or for more information, please visit or call 336-774-GOAL(4625).

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