Port Huron Falls in Overtime

The Port Huron Prowlers fell 6-5 in overtime to the Carolina Thunderbirds on Dec. 3 at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. The Prowlers leave North Carolina with four out of a possible six points.

Neither team found the back of the net until there were under two minutes to go in the first period. Joe Deveny came in on a rush, stepped to the middle and fired the puck through traffic past Boris Babik to open the scoring.

Petr Panacek answered with a rebound tap-in after Gus Ford drove the net to tie the game up at one just over a minute into the second. Five and a half minutes into the period, Josh Koepplinger beat Wyatt Hoflin to give Carolina the lead. Just 44 seconds later, Panacek struck again, digging at a loose puck in the crease, to increase the margin to two. Ford added one of his own with 9:30 to go in the frame and the Thunderbirds took a 4-1 lead.

Port Huron battled back later in the period. Dalton Jay charged into the Carolina zone and found Liam Freeborn who picked the corner on the one-timer for his second goal in as many games. Just over two minutes later, Jay scored after Matt Graham caused a turnover with a hit in the neutral zone. 91 seconds after that, it was four-on-four when Evan Foley found Larri Vartiainen who blasted a one-timer into the back of the net and all of a sudden, it was a tie game heading into the third.

The Prowlers drew first blood in the final frame when Jay took a pass behind Joe Kennedy and beat Babik to the glove side for his team’s fourth-straight goal. The tally also moved him past Justin Brausen for third place on the FPHL’s all-time goals list with 204. He sits behind only current Binghamton Black Bear Tyler Gjurich and former Port Huron star Ahmed Mahfouz. 

Panacek completed the hat trick when his shot hit a Prowler on its way through and fooled Hoflin. Port Huron couldn’t take advantage of a boarding major against Panacek with under five minutes to go and we headed to overtime.

The Prowlers’ power play leaked into the extra session but they couldn’t score. Just past the midway point of overtime, there was a delayed penalty against Port Huron. Carolina got the extra attacker on and the puck was worked to Tucker Firth who wired a slap shot over Hoflin’s glove to seal the extra point.

The Thunderbirds outshot the Prowlers 44-25 and, although there were fewer penalties than in Friday’s contest, the teams combined for 62 penalty minutes.

Jay led Port Huron with three points while Freeborn and Vartiainen also finished with multi-point efforts. Hoflin made 38 saves in his fourth-straight start.

Panacek and Ford had three points apiece for Carolina. Babik stopped 20 shots and picked up the win in a full game of work after taking the loss Friday in 20 minutes between the pipes.

Next up, the Prowlers return home to host the Columbus River Dragons at McMorran Place on Dec. 9 at 7:05 P.M. The teams will clash in two of the next three weekends with both coming in Port Huron.

Photo courtesy of BC Captures