Thunderbirds Take 7-5 Saturday Win In Spicy Affair

Columbus, GA - The Carolina Thunderbirds took the win over the Columbus River Dragons on throwback night at the Civic Center.

The Cottonmouths jerseys were out in full force as the crowd of 4,000+ that had just seen the Cottonmouths legends skate to a 9-3 win over Fort Benning then got loud early when Chase Fallis scored 1:24 into the game when a Yianni Liarakos shot deflected off of him for the goal past Michal Marcinek.

Carolina would tie up the game before the period ended though with a big play from Jan Krivohlavek going give and go with Jiri Pargac to fire home his 22nd of the year.

A tie score and a defensive battle shifted all of a sudden into an offensive slugfest. Carolina took their first lead of the game 5:07 into the second period when Jon Buttitta put a shot to the middle that appeared to take a deflection into the net. Buttitta gets credited for his 22nd of the season. Carolina would then double their lead on a 5-on-3 power play when Petr Panacek fired a bullet top-left corner from the slot to make it 3-1.

Columbus answered with a power play of their own when Will Laporte banged home a goal from the side of the net about two minutes after the Carolina tally to make it 3-2 Thunderbirds.

After this goal the theme of the night became Carolina keeping Columbus at an arm's distance to never get the game back tied.

After 3-2, Salak slid one home after a bounce in the slot to restore the two-goal lead. After that goal, less than a minute later Cameron Dimmitt shot one in when Marcinek had an equipment malfunction and couldn't slide over to make the stop. Carolina restored their two goal lead before the period ended when Krivohlavek out a backdoor pass into the net for a 5-3 game through 40 minutes.

In the third period Columbus fired right back, 46 seconds in to the third Jacob Gerson buried one point-blank for the goal to make it 5-4. 

But as the theme was in the second, it continued in the third.

Daniel Klinecky scored shorthanded streaking down the left wing side and going five-hole on Karpinski trying to keep up with his lateral movement. Then the Thunderbirds picked up a three-goal lead when Jon Buttitta slapped home a deflection from Jiri Pargac to make it 7-4.

Columbus got one for the road to make it 7-5 when MJ Graham got set up by Ivan Bondarenko on a drop pass. The goal came with five seconds left in the period and it went final shortly after that.

But if you think a southern rivalry game on a Saturday night ended that cleanly, oh how wrong you might be. At the 3:33 mark of the second period multiple players from each team were sent to the box and the big play saw MJ Graham firing punches at Mike Baker.

Later in the second (12:45 mark) Jay Kenney and Will Laporte dropped the gloves and a heavyweight fight was broken up quickly when Laporte got the jersey over Kenney's head.

In the third period the rough stuff continued, a full on yard sale happened at the 8:56 mark when Edgars Ozolinsh contacted Kelly Curl and multiple fights broke out all over the ice. The night finished on the crazy side when George Holt sticked MJ Graham in the face causing a disturbance and Jay Croop getting ejected full Bobby Cox style on the way out.

Kelly Curl picks up the win in relief making 11 saves on 13 shots, Marcinek gets no decision and nine saves on 12 shots. For the River Dragons Cody Karpinski suffers the loss making 39 stops on 46 shots.

The same two teams finish up the series in Carolina Sunday afternoon at 4:05. The Burger King pregame show starts up at 3:35 on the River Dragons Radio Network.

Three Stars of the Game

Jan Krivohlavek (CAR)
Daniel Klinecky (CAR)
Chase Fallis