Unconventional Ending Saturday Night Sees Carolina Break 3-Game Losing Streak
Columbus, GA - A contentious Saturday night game between the River Dragons and Thunderbirds ended after a 12th round shootout goal from Viktor Grebennikov to give Carolina two of the three points on the night.
The scoring started in Carolina's favor not once but twice from Gus Ford. The Tillsonburg native got his first goals of the season at 3:38 and 17:45 of the first period, both times finding the bottom left corner of the net past Bailey MacBurnie.
14 seconds later, MJ Graham would cut the lead in half after Robert Vanwynsberghe centered a puck that went off Graham and found the back of the net past Nick Modica who was making his second straight start against Columbus.
Facing a deficit going into the 2nd, Columbus began to ramp up the speed and it paid off on a breakout play that saw Austin Daae slip past the Carolina defense and blow one by the blocker side of Modica to tie the game at two.
In the third period both teams knew the next goal could be the one that ended it and locked down defensively for the majority of the period. Despite the lockdown, Columbus would break through with Tom Maldonado holding the offensive blue line and passing the puck to the front where Jay Croop was standing all alone and made a couple of stick handles to score and give Columbus their first lead of the night.
One minute later though, Carolina found an equalizer when Vaughn Clouston centered a puck and a deflection off of Blake Peavey tied the game up with less than two minutes to go.
An exciting but scoreless overtime gave way to a shootout that will be remembered for some time.
Carolina and Columbus each came up empty in the regulation five rounds, setting up sudden death. In the 6th round Gus Ford went 5-hole on MacBurnie to put Carolina up heading into the bottom half. The captain Josh Pietrantonio stepped up and fired it glove side to keep the game going.
Four more rounds passed with no goals and the goaltenders looming large. In the bottom of the 11th, MJ Graham appeared to have the goal that sealed the win for the Dragons. Cutting to his right and putting the puck past an outstretched Modica, the crowd began roaring with the Dragons seemingly have the win.
However, despite a signal of goal in the moment, a referee conference ensued and the goal was waved off. Both goaltenders had to return to the ice and the shootout dubiously continued. In the 12th, Grebennikov scored and Hunter Bersani was stopped by Modica to give Carolina the win.
Nick Modica picked up the win making 32 saves plus 11 out of 12 shootout attempts from the Dragons. MacBurnie took the loss in his FPHL debut with 27 saves and 10 of 12 shootout stops.
Carolina and Columbus renew acquaintance next weekend with a home and home series that starts at the Columbus Civic Center on Friday night. Puck drop at 7:30, tickets available at the Civic Center Box Office or on TicketMaster.