Danbury staves off comeback, takes dramatic shootout win
The Danbury Hat Tricks very narrowly averted disaster, as a four-goal Thunderbird comeback was fended off by way of a shootout.
Carolina jumped out to an early lead, capitalizing on a netmouth scramble just 1:33 into play. Carter Shinkaruk would respond minutes later for the Hat Tricks, capitalizing on a feed from behind the net from Phil Bronner. That would start a string of five unanswered goals for Danbury, as Vladyslav Gavrik and Jonny Ruiz would notch powerplay goals and Carter Shinkaruk would pot a shorthanded breakaway in rapid succession.
In the second period, Ruiz would grab his second of the game off a Phil Bronner pass.
Joe Cangelosi would stop the bleeding for Carolina momentarily by sneaking a shot past Dillon Kelley, but Shinkaruk would cap off his second hat trick in four games to extend the Hat Tricks' lead to four.
With the score at 6-2, the Thunderbirds revamped their breakout, completely controlling the pace of play and tightening defensively to dominate possession. Mike Henrici sniped a one-timer home, while Konner Haas added a powerplay goal before period's end.
The Thunderbirds would apply fierce pressure in the third period, tying up the score thanks to a pair of late goals from Haas and Petr Panacek.
Despite a frivolous late effort to take the lead, Carolina found themselves unable to break through Danbury's desperate defense. The Thunderbirds would fire four shots on Kelley in overtime, while not allowing a single chance the other way. Nevertheless, the score remained deadlocked heading into the shootout.
Kelley stopped all seven Thunderbird attackers in the shootout. Casper Dyrssen would eventually break through Jacob Mullen with a wrist shot to earn a dramatic victory.
"We challenged the boys before the game that it's going to be a playoff game," said head coach Billy McCreary, who skated on defense tonight for the Hat Tricks. "I thought our guys did a really good job of riding the waves tonight, we took care of business at the end."
"There's so many leaders in the locker room and on the bench," McCreary added, noting his presence as a player in the lineup. "My voice is another voice, but these guys know how to play the game and they pull for each other."
The Hat Tricks and Thunderbirds will rematch tomorrow night at Danbury Arena. Tickets are available by clicking here.