Thunderbirds Squander an Early Lead, Fall 5-4 to Cornwall in Front of Sellout Crowd
It would be a dramatic 5-4 overtime win for the Thunderbirds on Friday night in just the 4th meeting of the season series between Carolina and the Cornwall Nationals. The two teams would skate for a 5th time on Saturday night from the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, Cornwall looking to rebound from the loss, and Carolina trying to take their 4th game in a row.
In net for Cornwall it would be Sebastian Dube-Rochon once again. Rochon made 40 saves in the loss, and now sits at 12-10-3 with a 3.78 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. Rochon also took his 1st 2 penalty minutes of the season with a roughing call on Friday. Opposite him it would be Kelly Curl for Carolina, sporting a 6-3 record with a team-leading 2.77 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Carolina's offense would prove to be hard to handle for Cornwall early in the contest. At 1:21 of the 1st MJ Graham would take a tripping minor, but the Nationals would manage to kill the penalty. Carolina would continue the pressure, and at 4:51 the team would break through. Newcomer Artur Drindrozhik would be set up in front of the net by Michael Bunn. The Belarus native in just his 2nd game for Carolina would be Rochon to make it 1-0 Carolina. At 8:52 of the 1st, after a long period of Thunderbirds offensive pressure, Jiri Pestuka would steal the puck from a Cornwall defender and rifle it past Rochon to make it 2-0. Unassisted, the goal is Pestuka's 16th of the season and 33rd point. Pestuka would strike again at 10:46 of the period, when he would be set up in front of the net by Drindrozhik and wind the puck past Rochon, 3-0 Carolina. Coincidental minors for roughing would be assessed to Steve MacIntyre of Carolina and Yan Dumontier of the Nationals near the end of the 1st, Dumontier would also leave the game with an apparent upper body injury. At the intermission the Thunderbirds would still lead 3-0, ahead on shots 19-9.
To say the game was a tale of two periods would be an understatement. Cornwall's offense, dormant in the 1st period, would come alive and keep Carolina on the ropes during the 2nd. The Nationals would out-shoot Carolina 22-12 in the frame, and at 5:16 of the period Justin Portillo would fire a shot above the shoulder of Curl to open the scoring for Cornwall. Just under 3 minutes after it would be Brandon Contratto scoring, tucking the puck in and around behind Curl to make it 3-2. Cornwall would not be finished however, and at 12:24 Daniel Martin would tally to make it a tie game at 3. A Steve MacIntyre cross-checking penalty would send the Nationals on the power-play again, and MJ Graham would find the back of the net for the Nationals 4th unanswered goal. Cornwall would out-shoot Carolina 22-12 in the 2nd.
In the 3rd the Thunderbirds would make things interesting, early on a Justin Portillo holding minor would send Carolina on the power-play. After a Kilgore shot from the point would deflect wide, Drindrozhik would pick the puck up and wrap it around past Rochon, tying the game at 4. Shortly after however Carolina would get another power-play, but a steal by Matyas Kasek in the Thunderbirds zone would send him in all alone. Kasek would beat Curl to make it 5-4. The goal would be the eventual game-winner, as Carolina was unable to force the issue and tie the game again.
In the loss, Curl would stop 35 of 37, while Rochon would block 45 of 49.
Artur Drindrozhik's 2 goals and 1 assist are his first 3 points as a Thunderbird, in just his 2nd game played.
The short-handed goal by Matyas Kasek was not only the game-winner, but is the 8th such goal allowed by Carolina this season.
Back in Action
The Thunderbirds home weekend will finish up against the Cornwall Nationals on Sunday February 11th with "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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