Hat Tricks Drop Game 1 of the Finals to Thunderbirds

by Chris Lynch

Winston-Salem, NC- The Danbury Hat Tricks opened up the Commissioner's Cup Championship Series in Winston-Salem against the Carolina Thunderbirds and fell 6-2 in front of a rowdy and lively crowd at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. 

Brendan Sheehan scored the first goal of the game 6:18 into the game on a brilliant unassisted effort for the Hat Tricks' first Finals goal in franchise history. The remainder of the first period belonged to Carolina, as Gus Ford notched two goals to give the Thunderbirds the lead for good. Patr Panacek recorded one more goal with two seconds left to end the period's scoring at 3-1 for the Thunderbirds. 

Danbury had two power play chances in the second period, one of them an extended five-on-three but failed to capitalize on the longer chance. Gordy Bonnel potted his first goal of the postseason on a power play to cut the deficit to 3-2 7:44 into the second. The Hat Tricks got no closer than that. Jan Salak and Jiri Pestuka potted goals 2:29 apart from each other to send the scoring to 5-2 before the second intermission. 

The Hat Tricks outshot the Thunderbirds 12 to 9 in the third period but couldn't get anything through Gregg Hussey, who stopped 39 of 41 shots on his net for the game. Lucas Rowe added one final goal on an empty net to finish the scoring at 6-2. 

Brian Wilson stopped 42 of 47 shots in the Hat Tricks net. 

Carolina leads the best-of-five series one game to none. 

Game Two of the series is Saturday night at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex. Puck drops at 6:05 PM ET.