Thunderbirds avoid elimination against Port Huron, 4-2

Carolina Thunderbirds

April 21, 2024 – Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL)
Carolina Thunderbirds news story

Winston-Salem, NC – After trailing twice in Game Two of the Commissioners Cup Quarterfinals, the Carolina Thunderbirds scored three unanswered goals to force a Game Three against the Port Huron Prowlers, with Port Huron 4-2 was defeated at the Fairgrounds Arena.

Port Huron struck early in the first period and kept the momentum going after its Game One win. Conor Foley scored his second goal of the series at 7:40 of the first period and the Prowlers had the lead after 20 minutes.

In the second period, Carolina had to go to the dirty areas to break through. Jan Salak forced himself to the top of the crease and collected a pass from Gus Ford to set up his first goal of the postseason, tying the game. The tie was short-lived when Chace McCardle tapped in a rebound 18 seconds later to give the visitors the lead again: 2-1.

Trailing and on the brink of elimination, the Thunderbirds responded. At 14:28 of the 2nd, Josh Koepplinger scored his first goal of the postseason, tying the game at two. Three minutes later, after rebounding a shot from the point, Jacob Schnapp scored his second postseason goal at the 5:40 mark, putting the Thunderbirds up 3–2 and moving into third place.

Koepplinger started the final frame 4-on-4 and got his second of the night just 89 seconds into the game. Koepplinger fired a shot off the crossbar to double Carolina’s lead, 4-2. The Thunderbirds then cruised to a 4-2 win, forcing Game Three against Port Huron.

With two goals that night, Koepplinger was named the first star, while Schnapp earned the second star. Cody Karpinski was the third star to save 20 of 22 shots that night.

The Thunderbirds and Prowlers meet Sunday night in Winston-Salem for the deciding Game Three. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. from the Fairgrounds Arena.

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