COLUMBUS, GA - Gus Ford’s breakaway goal at 4:43 of double overtime sent the Carolina Thunderbirds to the Commissioners Cup final with a 2-1 win over the Columbus River Dragons on Sunday night.

Columbus broke through first at 10:33 of the first period on Ryan Hunter’s second goal of the playoffs, a wrist shot from the left circle that rang in off the far post past the glove of Mario Cavaliere (41 saves).

Carolina tied the game up in the third period at 12:08 when James Farmer scored his first of the postseason off a feed from Justin Bioni.

With each team failing to score on a power play chance in the first overtime, it would be a Dawson Baker feed to Ford at the far blueline allowing him to break in alone and score the game winner to send Carolina through to the Final.


  • The game marked the final games in the careers of River Dragons captain Josh Pietrantonio and assistant captain Austin Daae.

  • In 13 games between the River Dragons and Thunderbirds on the 23-24 season, seven of them went to OT or a shootout.

  • Columbus failed to score on four power play chances for, while Carolina failed to cash in its only power play chance.

  • Columbus’ season comes to an end in the Continental Division Final for the second straight season.

Carolina will now open the best-of-five Commissioners Cup Final at home against the Binghamton Black Bears on Friday night.