Marchesan & Lopez Stay Hot, Hat Tricks Top Thunderbirds

by Herm Sorcher

Danbury, CT- Momentum carried from Friday night’s comeback effort into a Saturday night tilt at the Danbury Arena for the Hat Tricks. After an inspired 5-4 win in Elmira, the Hat Tricks rewarded a packed home crowd with a spirited effort and five goals, powered by two heroes of Friday night’s win, Michael Marchesan and Mike Lopez.

The two combined for two of the team’s five goals and had plenty of chances at other points of the evening to score, denied by only Boris Babik in the Carolina net (24 saves on 29 shots). The two goals the two combined on came to open the scoring at the 9:42 mark of the first period and to put an exclamation point on the game at 11:27 of the second.”

"Depth is key for any team,“ said Hat Tricks Head Coach Billy McCreary of his team’s contributions. “It can’t always be the same guys driving our offense. Lopes and Marchy are working their tails off looking for an opportunity and have taken advantage of their opportunity these last two nights.”

Marchesan has four goals and five points in his last two games while Lopez has two goals and two assists for four points in the last two games.

Danbury increased their lead in the back half of the first period thanks to a brilliant tip job by Dmitry Kuznetzov at the 13:33 mark for his eighth goal in eight games since returning to the Hat Tricks from a loan to the SPHL. Carolina answered with a nifty top shelf shot by Jiri Pestuka 2:48 later. Almost immediately after, Carolina took two penalties and gave the Hat Tricks a five-on-three power play, on which Gordie Bonnel capitalized and punched in his third goal of the season.

After the previously mentioned Marchesan second period goal, Brendan Sheehan potted a nifty goal to make the score 5-1 before the second intermission.

Carolina pushed back in the final stanza and scored two third period goals. Josh Koepplinger scored 8:23 into the frame and Daniel Martin scored with just 50 seconds remaining in regulation. John Buttitta recorded assists on both Thunderbirds goal for two points on the evening.

28 of Carolina’s shots were steered away by Danbury goalie Brian Wilson.

“Willy gives us a lot of confidence,” said McCreary of his starting goaltender. “...and he allows us to work through mistakes. We’re a team that likes to make plays, but we also make mistakes and Willy’s always there to bail us out and he was tremendous again tonight.

Carolina drops to 8-3-1. The Thunderbirds return home for two games next weekend against the Port Huron Prowlers. 

Danbury improves to 11-0-1. The Hat Tricks remain the only team in the FPHL who lacks a regulation loss. Billy McCreary’s squad travels to Columbus, GA, to face to River Dragons next weekend.

“It’s our biggest test yet,” said McCreary of the impending River Dragon trip. “We want to enjoy the success we’ve had this week but then we’ve gotta turn the page pretty quickly here.”

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 at the Columbus Civic Center for Friday night’s matchup between the two FPHL Division leaders.