Prowlers Take Game 1 From Carolina

The Port Huron Prowlers held on for a 3-2 win over the Carolina Thunderbirds in Game 1 of their Commissioner’s Cup Quarterfinals matchup at McMorran Place on April 19. The win is the Prowlers’ first in the playoffs since 2018.

“I thought that was one of the most complete games we played all year,” said Prowlers head coach Matt Graham. “We played very disciplined, not only staying out of the box but also with our structure. I thought it paid off well for the guys.”

Early in the first, Gus Ford deflected a shot from the point. The puck landed in the crease and he put it home. After a long discussion, referees Jonathan Sitarski and Jonathan Paradise ruled that it was knocked down with a high stick and the goal was waved off. A minute later, Dalton Jay cut off a clearing attempt and gave it to Dominic Loubert at the point. He let a wrister go that beat Mario Cavaliere to the blocker side and opened the scoring for real. 

“The reversal of that goal was huge,” Graham said. “Getting that overturned and then having the opportunity for [Loubert] to come in and take a shot was a huge momentum swing for us.”

That 1-0 score held into the second when Conor Foley picked off an outlet pass, danced around Tucker Firth and went top shelf to double the Port Huron advantage. 

Just as the clock hit the final minute of the middle period, Joe Kennedy sent a shot through that Makar Sokolov got a piece of but not enough as Carolina got on the board.

“The message in the locker room [after the second] was that we strayed away from what we were talking about as a group,” Graham said. “They got an opportunity and they cashed in on it. We played a little too much in the defensive zone that period and our messaging was to get back to what made us successful in the first and we did and had success in the third.”

The Prowlers dominated the beginning part of the third and got rewarded as Vincent Dekumbis’ shot off a turnover deflected off of Dan Chartrand and in to restore the two-goal lead.

Gus Ford scored a power-play marker later in the stanza but Port Huron held strong from there to get the win.

Dekumbis, Frank Schumacher and Dalton Jay got an assist each while Sokolov made 25 saves in his first career playoff start.

Ford added an assist to his goal while Josh Koepplinger and Clay Keeley each chipped in a helper. Cavaliere stopped 28 shots in the loss.

The Prowlers will have a chance to win the series in Game 2 in Winston-Salem on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 P.M. The game will be streamed live on the PHP Network YouTube channel.

“The mindset is that this is in the past,” Graham said. “We show up tomorrow with the same attitude and mindset that we showed up with today.”

Photo courtesy of Delta Imaging