Carolina Thunderbirds captain and forward Josh Pietrantonio has been named a “Forward of the Year” by the Federal Hockey League. Pietrantonio joins the Watertown Wolves’ Tyler Gjurich, the Danville Dashers’ Ahmed Mahfouz and Justin Levac, and the Port Huron Prowlers’ Branden Parkhouse and Matt Robertson as recipients of the award.
This season Pietrantonio would suit up in 46 games for Carolina this season and finish up the campaign as the leading scorer. With 19 goals, 37 assists, 30 penalty minutes, and a +15 rating. 7 of Pietrantonio’s goals this season came on the power-play, and one of his scores was a game-winner. He would average 1.2 points-per-game but his contribution to the team was much more than his on-ice production.
Head Coach of the Thunderbirds Andre Niec on Pietrantonio’s award,
“I am so proud of Josh this season, he has been a huge part of keeping the team together and on-track for the whole season. Without him we would not be in the position that we are in right now. His on-ice production has been tremendous, but in terms of leading the team I don’t think I could have found anyone better to wear the ‘C’ this year.”
In other Thunderbird news, defenseman Steve MacIntyre has been suspended by the Federal Hockey League for 3 games following his match-penalty for head contact in last Friday’s game against the Port Huron Prowlers.
The Thunderbirds regular season has wrapped up in historic fashion off the ice as well. After 30 regular season home games, the Thunderbirds have a total attendance of 66,204 to go with an average of 2,207. Both of these are the highest in a regular season in the 8-year history of the Federal Hockey League. The attendance mark is a full 14,720 above the previous record and the average is 301 tickets higher than the previous all-time record. Both of the old records were set by the 2012-2013 Danbury Whalers at 51,484 in 27 home games, a 1,906 average.
To top off the records, when looking at the attendance for professional hockey state-wide the season the Thunderbirds have had is put into further perspective. Judging by the percentage of the seats sold for the regular season home games, the Thunderbirds have the highest attendance in the state. By comparing the average attendance with the total capacity of the buildings in question the Thunderbirds finished the regular season averaging a 73% full building for each home game. Just behind the T-Birds is the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League, who finished averaging 70% capacity per-game. The Fayetteville Marksman wrapped up their regular season in the Southern Professional Hockey League with an average of 66% of their building full per-game. Finally, the only other playoff-bound team in the state of North Carolina, the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League averaged 53% capacity for each of their home games this season.
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).