Thunderbirds End Prowlers Winning Streak Again, Beat Port Huron 4-1
For the final time during the Federal Hockey League's regular season the Carolina Thunderbirds would play road warriors. Saturday night they would drop the puck against the Port Huron Prowlers for the 3rd to last game of the season. Port Huron, already having locked up the FHL Regular Season Championship and a 1st place berth in the playoffs enters action just 1 win away from making history. One more Prowler victory in their remaining 3 games will mean that Port Huron finishes the season with the most wins and the most points in FHL history. In fact, the most points mark can be achieved by 2 overtime losses but should that happen the Prowlers will remain tied with the New Jersey Outlaws for the most wins in league history. For Carolina the weekend's games represent a tune-up headed into the 1st round of the playoffs against the Watertown Wolves.
Michael Santaguida would get the nod in the Prowlers net, sporting a league leading 22-0-1 record, 2.26 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. For Carolina it would be Christian Pavlas, the former North Shore Knight starting, with his 8-15-1 record, 4.57 goals-against average and .884 save percentage. Since coming to Carolina however, Pavlas is 6-5-1 with a 3.55 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage.
Carolina would carry the momentum from Friday night's 3rd period into the 1st on Saturday. Just 15 seconds in Kyle Stevens would skate around the Prowler defense and back-hand the puck past Michael Santaguida to make it 1-0 Carolina. Joe Cangelosi and Rick O'Connor would assist on Steven's 15th goal of the season. Carolina would continue the pressure, out-shooting the Prowlers 6-0 well into the 5th minute of play. At 11:45 Port Huron's Stepan Timofeyev would take a cross-checking minor penalty and Jay Croop of Carolina would be assessed a roughing minor. During the 4-on-4 play Alex Johnson of Port Huron would also take a roughing penalty. The Prowlers would kill off the Thunderbird power-play, and manage to keep Carolina off the board for the remainder of the period. After 1 Carolina led 1-0, out-shooting Port Huron 17-8.
The second period would start off competitive but towards the end descend into a penalty-filled affair. The teams would both come out firing, with Port Huron starting to fire more pucks on net and gain more scoring chances. At 8:11 of the period Alex Vazquez of the Thunderbirds would run into Matt Robertson of the Prowlers. The hard collision would send both men down to the ice, and get Vazquez booked for a kneeing major penalty. While on the ice in pain Vazquez would be speared by Port Huron defenseman Edgars Ozolins causing a scrum. Chase Fallis would come to the defense of his prone teammate and take a roughing minor himself. The teams would skate 4-on-4 for 2 minutes, before the Prowlers would get a 3-minute power-play. Carolina would kill it off, but once again the game would devolve into penalties. At 17:37 of the period Jonathan Juliano would take an interference minor after blindsiding Jay Croop and sending him off the ice with an injury. After the whistle Prowler Captain Joe Pace Jr would slash the stick of Justin Blaszak, fire a puck at Christian Pavlas, and argue with the referee. Pace would receive a 2-minute slashing minor and a 10-minute verbal abuse of an official misconduct. On the power-play Carolina would find the back of the net, but the goal would be waved off. On the 2nd effort Jason Berube would tip in a Tom Kilgore shot to make it 2-0 Carolina. Right at the end of the period though the Prowlers would have the puck bounce their way, and on a net-mouth scramble with just 1 second left in the period. Alex Johnson would get the goal with Matt Coleman assisting. The teams would skate 2-1 into the intermission, with the Prowlers now leading in shots 26-22.
In the 3rd the teams would settle and battle for possession, with the Prowlers desperately trying to tie the game up. The action continued at a frantic pace, and at 14:46 of the period Stanislav Vlasov would take a 2-minute delay of game penalty. Carolina would kill off the man-advantage, and in the waning minutes the Prowlers would pull their goaltender. Tom Kilgore would take a Rick O'Connor pass and slot it into the empty net, making it 3-1 Carolina. Off the face-off reset the Prowlers would control the puck and once again pull Santaguida, and again O'Connor would find Kilgore, 4-1 Carolina. The T-Birds would skate to the win despite being out-shot 44-29 and break the Prowlers long winning streak.
In the loss, his first regulation loss of the season, Michael Santaguida would stop 25 of 27 sent his way. In the win Christian Pavlas would turn aside 43 of 44.
With the regulation loss the Prowlers are still 1 win and 2 points away from breaking the all-time FHL records for a regular season finish.
With 3 assists on the night, Rick O'Connor has his 1st 3-point game of the season.
This is Tom Kilgore's 3rd game this season now with 3 points.
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Federal Hockey League Stories from March 31, 2018
- Wolves Feed Hunger for More Wins in Match-Up with Danville - Watertown Wolves
- Thunderbirds End Prowlers Winning Streak Again, Beat Port Huron 4-1 - Carolina Thunderbirds
- Incredible Run Finally Ends - FHL
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