Series Preview: Thunderbirds Visit Port Huron
The Port Huron Prowlers and Carolina Thunderbirds will clash for the first time this season at McMorran Place. It will be the first meeting between the two squads since Carolina knocked Port Huron out of the Commissioner’s Cup Playoffs last spring.
The Prowlers are coming off a three-game weekend with the Motor City Rockers. Port Huron won a tight 3-2 contest at Big Boy Arena in the season opener on Oct. 13 and blasted the Rockers 7-3 on Oct. 14 at McMorran place. Motor City took Oct. 15’s contest 2-1. On-ice activity following the final game of the series resulted in three one-game suspensions with two going against Port Huron. As a result, defenseman Alex Johnson and forward Sam Marit will be unavailable for the opening game of this series. Johnson and Larri Vartiainen lead the team with five points apiece while Joe Deveny and Dalton Jay are tied with a team-high three goals.
The Thunderbirds will be opening their season this weekend. They return both of their 80-plus point-getters from last year, Gus Ford and John Buttitta. The team made waves in the offseason when it traded goaltender Chris Paulin to the Watertown Wolves for defenseman Ryan Devine. Paulin led the FPHL with 20 wins last year and is the Thunderbirds’ franchise leader in games played by a goaltender. He also sits second in franchise history in wins. Devine won the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup with the Prowlers and put up 27 points in 32 games with Watertown last year. Both he and Paulin were 2021-22 FPHL Second Team All-Stars.
The last time these two teams met, Carolina ended Port Huron’s season with a 4-3 overtime win in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Ford scored the tying goal with under two minutes to play and Dawson Baker tallied the series winner just over five minutes into overtime. That was the last game the Thunderbirds won as they were swept by Devine and the eventual-champion Wolves in the second round.
Players to Watch
Prowlers - Evan Foley (F) - Foley centered a very productive line with Deveny and Vartiainen in the opening weekend that will be relied upon even more with offensive threats in Marit and Johnson out of the lineup for the first game of this weekend.
Thunderbirds - Nathan Campbell (D) - Campbell put up four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in the two-game playoff series between these two teams last season. He brings his offensive abilities from the blue line back this season.
In 2021-22, Gus Ford (CAR) set new franchise records for goals (43) and points (84) in a season…Austin Fetterly and Alex Johnson (PHP) each had at least one assist in all three games last weekend
Oct. 21, 7:05 PM at McMorran Place (Port Huron, MI)
Oct. 22, 6:05 PM at McMorran Place (Port Huron, MI)