Gjurich, Ingram, and the Wolves Dismantle Thunderbirds

By Al Kessler

Winston-Salem, NC - The Carolina Thunderbirds would welcome the Watertown Wolves for a 3 game set at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex starting on Friday night. In a battle for 3rd place, the Wolves were just a few games ahead of Carolina entering action. Watertown holds onto 3rd place at 13-11-5-4, with 53 points, and a .535 winning percentage. Carolina sits in 4th place at 14-17-5-1, with 53 points as well, and a .477 winning percentage.

In net for Watertown it would be Cody Karpinski getting the nod; he is 6-3-2 on the season, with a 3.16 goals-against average, and a .912 save percentage. For Carolina it would be the local product Kelly Curl in between the pipes, sporting a 6-4 record, with a 2.98 goals-against average, and a .908 save percentage.

The Thunderbirds offense would come out of the gate buzzing, challenging Karpinski and the Wolves early and often. Watertown would weather the storm, including killing off a Thunderbirds power play after a 2-minute minor for head contact to Dallas Ingram, which would send Thunderbirds' Captain Josh Pietrantonio out of the game with an apparent injury. After killing off the penalty, Ingram and Joe Cangelosi would tangle, the Thunderbird forward standing up for his injured captain. Afterwards, the Wolves offense would come alive, and at 13:37 of the first Cameron Dimmitt would drop a pass for Troy Polino, who would find the back of the net to make it 1-0, Wolves. The goal is Polino's 2nd of the season in just his 3rd game played, while Dimmitt's assist is his 11th of the campaign. Shortly after, Thunderbird Tom Kilgore would take a holding minor, but Carolina would kill off the penalty. Just seconds after Kilgore would leave the box, Anton Lennartsson would fire the puck into the net off a net-mouth scramble to make it 2-0, Wolves. The goal is Lennartsson's 10th of the season, with assists from Dimmitt and John Scully at 15:54 of the frame. Another Kilgore penalty shortly after for cross-checking would lead to a dropping of the gloves between him and CJ Hayes. On the ensuing power-play, the FHL's best man-advantage unit would strike when Tyler Gjurich would score his league-leading 37th goal and 12th power play goal of the campaign; Lennartsson and Scully would assist on the goal. Lennartsson would take a late holding penalty, and the Thunderbirds would start the second period with a power play for 1:52. Carolina would outshoot the wolves 20-10 in the period but trailed 3-0 after one period of play.

Watertown would kill off the rest of the power play to start the second, and the physicality would increase in tempo during the middle frame. Nearly halfway through the period the tempers would flare and Michael Bunn and Dallas Ingram would drop the gloves, with Bunn leaving the ice afterwards with an upper-body injury. Just over 2 minutes afterwards it would be Alex Vazquez and Anton Lennartsson dropping the gloves as well; Lennartsson completing the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" in the process, with a goal, an assist, and a fight. Late in the period, with just 27 seconds remaining, Gjurich would deflect an Ingram shot in past Curl to make it 4-0, Wolves. Ingram's assist is his 11th of the season, while Scully has his 3rd assist of the game. With just 7 seconds left in the game, Ingram would take a slashing minor-penalty, giving the Thunderbirds a power play for 1:53 to start the third period. Carolina would once again outshoot the Wolves, 14-4 in the second, for a total of 34-14 in favor of the Thunderbirds, who trailed 4-0.

The third period would see the two squads battle back and forth, and early in the period Cameron Dimmitt of the Wolves would take a hooking minor, sending the Thunderbirds to the power play. While on the man-advantage, Gavin Yates would steal the puck in the Carolina zone and race in to score a short-handed goal at 3:30 of the period to make it 5-0, Watertown. On the same power play just 21 seconds later, Artur Drindrozhik would score to break the shutout bid for Karpinski. The goal is Drindrozhik's 3rd of the season in just his 4th game with Carolina. Jay Croop and Tom Kilgore would assist on the goal, scored at 3:51 of the period on the power play. Thunderbird Chase Fallis would take a 5-minute fighting-major, quickly followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct minor on Interim Head Coach Scott Brand. On the ensuing 5-on-3, John Scully would score to make it 6-1, Watertown. Artur Drindrozhik would add another goal on the 4-on-4, but with just over 1 minute left, Gjurich would score on the power play to complete the hattrick and add another man-advantage tally to his resume.

In the win, Karpinski would stop 44 of 46, while Curl would save 19 of 26 in the loss. Tyler Gjurich's two power play goals in the first and third periods give him 13 such on the season, which leads the league. In addition, his 3 goals give him 39 on the season, which is most in the FHL. The short-handed goal allowed by Carolina is the 9th of the season, which leads the league. Artur Drindrozhik of Carolina continues his hot streak. In just 4 games for Carolina he has 4 goals and 2 assists. Attendance tonight was 1,776.

The Thunderbirds weekend series against the Wolves continues Saturday and Sunday, February 17th and 18th. On Saturday the puck will drop at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex at 6:05 PM with the doors opening one hour earlier. The game is "Olympic Night" presented by the Winston-Salem Journal, and Carolina will be wearing specialty jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit the Special Olympics. Sunday's game is a 4:05 PM puck drop, and it's "Faith Night" with specialty group rates for religious organizations and youth groups. To reserve your groups spot call Kaitlyn Lusk at (336) 774-8882. For more information about the rest of the games this weekend visit www.carolinathunderbirds.com.