Series Preview: Prowlers Playoffs Open with Rematch
The Port Huron Prowlers and Carolina Thunderbirds clash to begin the Commissioner’s Cup Playoffs in a rematch of last season’s first-round series. The Thunderbirds swept the Prowlers in two games last year.
Port Huron ended its season being swept at home by the FPHL regular season champion Danbury Hat Tricks. Both teams rested players during the two-game weekend series. Danbury scored three-straight goals in the second period of the first game to take a 4-1 lead. The Hat Tricks held on for a 5-3 victory. The next night, Danbury held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period and the Prowlers threw 28 saves at Brian Wilson but could not find the equalizer. The Hat Tricks won a wild game 4-1 with the teams combining for 144 penalty minutes. Port Huron finishes fourth in the Continental at 28-24-4 with 86 points.
Carolina split a home-and-home with Columbus on April 14 and 15 to win the Continental Division title. The Thunderbirds entered the weekend ahead by a point but fell the first game at home 4-3 in a shootout. Carolina answered every lead the River Dragons took, including Petr Panacek tying the game with 40 seconds left in the third. Jacob Kelly scored the only shootout goal in the third round to get the win and put Columbus back on top of the division. It came down to a winner-take-all matchup at the Columbus Civic Center which the Dragons led 3-1 heading into the third. Joe Kennedy and Josh Koepplinger scored to tie it up and they went back to a shootout. Koepplinger and Gus Ford converted in the skills competition while Greg Hussey stopped both Columbus shooters. Carolina finishes atop the Continental at 40-12-4 with 117 points.
SEASON SERIES (TIED 2-2)
Oct. 21 @ Port Huron: Prowlers 4, Thunderbirds 3
Oct. 22 @ Port Huron: Thunderbirds 5, Prowlers 4 (OT)
Dec. 2 @ Carolina: Prowlers 7, Thunderbirds 5
Dec. 3 @ Carolina: Thunderbirds 6, Prowlers 5 (OT)
A wild second period with both teams going on runs ended up with a Thunderbirds overtime victory. Carolina scored four straight in the middle frame to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead, but Port Huron roared back to tie it before the period expired. After the team’s traded third-period tallies, Tucker Firth snapped home the game-winner in the extra session.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Prowlers - Dalton Jay (F) - Jay led the Prowlers in goals and points this season, helped in large part by a 22-game point streak from late October to the end of December. He scored a goal and had three assists in the two-game series between these teams last year.
Thunderbirds - Gus Ford (F) - Ford was named the league MVP for a reason after averaging over two points per game throughout the season. He had four points in last year’s series between these teams.
Four Prowlers surpassed their career highs for points in a season (Mini, Deveny, Foley and Marit)…Gus Ford (CAR) broke the franchise records for goals (46) and points (114) in a season he set last year. He also set a new franchise assist record (68)…Port Huron has 82 games of Commissioner’s Cup Playoffs experience on the roster while Carolina has 77 games…The 139 days between the last regular season matchup and game one are the most for any first-round series
April 21, 7:00 P.M. at McMorran Place (Port Huron, MI)
April 22, 4:05 P.M. at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex (Winston-Salem, NC)
April 23, 4:05 P.M. at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex (Winston-Salem, NC) *If Necessary*