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Captain Clutch; Pietrantonio's Hat-Trick Completes Comeback in OT for a 5-4 win

February 9, 2018 - Federal Hockey League (FHL) - Carolina Thunderbirds News Release

For the 4th time in the regular season the Carolina Thunderbirds would play host to the Cornwall Nationals. On Friday night the teams would clash at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, Carolina coming off a weekend sweep of the Danville Dashers the previous weekend. Entering action, the Nationals sit in 2nd place in the Federal Hockey League with a 16-11-0-2 record, 50 points, and a .575 winning percentage. Cornwall is 3-7 in their last 10 but won their last game against Watertown last weekend. Carolina improved to 4-6 in their last 10, and with the 2 wins now sit at 13-16-4-1, 48 points, and a .471 winning percentage good for 5th in the league.

In net for Cornwall it would be Sebastian Dube-Rochon, with a 12-10-2 record, a 3.74 goals-against average, and a .904 save percentage. For Carolina it would be Christian Pavlas getting the nod, with a 4-12 record overall, the Slovakian native is 2-2 with Carolina, sporting a 3.47 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage in the 4 games with his new team.

The two teams would play a first period punctuated by many whistles and stoppages of play. Carolina would get the first power-play opportunity of the game, when at 7:34 of the period, Justin Portillo of the Nationals would take a interference minor, but it would be Cornwall with the better chances during the 2 minutes. Carolina would get another chance later, when at 16:00 of the 1st Matyas Kasek would be assessed a roughing minor. Once again, the Nationals would kill the penalty off. Late in the period it would be Carolina's Dominik Fejt taking a roughing minor penalty with just 4 seconds left in the period, giving the Nationals a 1:56 power-play to start the 2nd period. Shots would be 14-13 in favor of Cornwall.

The 2nd period both teams' offenses would explode and combine for 5 goals. A tripping penalty by Josh Pietrantonio just 18 seconds into the period would give Cornwall a 5-on-3 power-play. Not wasting, Cornwall would find the back of the net to open the scoring. MJ Graham would get the goal, with Matyas Kasek and Yan Dumontier with the assists, 1-0 Cornwall, who would still have a 5-on-4 power-play. Just 30 seconds later Maxime Guyon would steal the puck from a Thunderbird defenseman and score on the power-play, unassisted, making it 2-0 Cornwall. The Nationals would keep up the pressure, but Carolina would strike back at 11:23 of the 2nd. Jiri Pestuka would find some open space near the bottom of the near-side face-off circle after a good pass from Ray Boudiette. Pestuka would slide the puck across and find Pietrantonio all alone on the back post, opening the scoring for Carolina. The goal is Pietrantonio's 12th of the season, and the helpers are Pestuka's and Boudiette's 16th and 3rd respectively. Justin Portillo would strike back quickly for Cornwall at 13:10 of the period he would win a net-mouth scramble to make it 3-1 Cornwall. Daniel Martin and Yan Dumontier would assist on the goal. Fittingly it would be only 22 seconds after the Portillo goal that Carolina's number 22 would score. Steve MacIntyre would fire a shot from the near-side point that would hop right to the stick of Jay Croop. Croop would wire a backhand shot past Rochon up above his shoulder to make it 3-2 Cornwall. Chase Fallis would also assist on the goal. The teams would skate into the 3rd period at 3-2, with Carolina leading on shots 26-25.

In the 3rd period it would be Cornwall coming out early and doubling up Carolina once again. At 4:20 of the period it would be Yan Dumontier firing the shot from the near wall, beating Pavlas and making it 4-2. Carolina would continue to battle, and after Rochon would make a great save, his defense could not get the puck out, and Pietrantonio would scoop up the rubber and bury it to make it 4-3, Michael Bunn and Ray Boudiette with the assists. After pulling Christian Pavlas for an extra skate, CJ Blaszka would blast a shot past Rochon to tie the game, MacIntyre and Bunn with the assists. On the play however, MacIntyre would take a double minor for high-sticking, and just under 30 seconds after, CJ Blaszka would take a interference minor. The teams would head into overtime, but Cornwall would have a 5-on-3 power-play.

Unable to score, the Nationals would fire 5 un-answered shots on net in the OT frame, but after killing off both penalties, Carolina would answer. Pietrantonio would race in on a 2-on-1 breakaway and be tripped up by Justin Portillo. On the power-play a Jiri Pestuka shot from the point would be tipped in by Pietrantonio, completing the hat-trick and sealing the victory, 5-4.

In the win Christian Pavlas would stop 38 of 42, while Rochon would stop 40 of 45 in the loss.

Notable Stats

This is Josh Pietrantonio's first hat-trick of the season.

Pietrantonio's overtime goal is his 6th power-play goal of the season, but only his 1st game-winner as a Thunderbird.

In just his 3rd game as a Thunderbird, Steve MacIntyre would notch 2 assists.

The win is Interim Head Coach and team President and GM Scott Brand's 3rd win in a row, and his 2nd ot victory in his FHL coaching career.

Attendance:2,029.

Back in Action

The Thunderbirds home weekend will continue against the Cornwall Nationals on Saturday, February 10th. The game is "Hometown Heroes Night", honoring the Triad's first responders. All Fire, Police, EMS, and City Employees can get 4 tickets for just $20 at the box office with their ID, presented by Intellichoice Homecare. Puck drop on Saturday is at 6:05 pm, with the doors opening an hour earlier. Sunday February 11th is "Captain Josh Mustache Night", brought to you by Washington Park Barbershop. The first 750 fans in attendance will get a fake mustache, just like the one the T-Birds captain wears. Puck drop on Sunday is at 4:05 pm. For tickets and more information please visit www.carolinathunderbirds.com or call 336-774-GOAL(4625).

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