There are ebbs and flows to a long hockey season where your team plays well and you make your breaks. Conversely, there are stretches when the puck just doesn’t bounce your way, and your team struggles. The expansion Delaware Thunder is experiencing the latter after dropping both of their Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) games on Nov. 1-2 to the defending Commissioner’s Cup Champion Carolina Thunderbirds, 7-2 on Friday and 5-1 on Saturday at the Thunderdome (Centre Ice Arena in Harrington, Delaware).
After two weeks of the regular season, the Thunder is 1-3 with 13 goals for and 19 goals surrendered, in a second place tie with Elmira (whom they place twice this coming weekend at New York) in the FPHL’s Eastern Division. Carolina bused back to Winston-Salem with a perfect 4-0 mark, a sparkling 24-9 goals for-against performance and in a first place tie with 4-0 Danville atop the Western Division.
On Saturday, the Thunder fell behind 1-0 before forward Ryan Marker, who is in a three way tie for the league lead with six goals, tied it at 1-1 with a shorthanded red light set up by forward Brennan Young. “Brennan made a great play by forcing (the Carolina puck carrier) wide, and when he made a bad pass, I was there to capitalize on it,” said Marker, who notched two of his team’s three goals during the weekend.
Carolina broke the game open with a pair of goals in both the second and third stanzas. Goalie Aaron Taylor made 44 saves as Carolina outshot the Thunder 49-24. Through four games, Delaware has been outshot by its two opponents 98-55.
On Friday night, the Thunder trailed by scores of 1-0 and 3-1 early in the second period, with all three of those Carolina goals coming on the power play. Marker, whose 10 points rank him second in the FPHL, tied the score 1-1 midway through the first period on a goal set up by forwards Brandon Contratto and Weng To. But the Thunderbirds built a 6-1 lead by late in period three. Contratto is in a first place tie for the league lead with seven assists, and ranks third with nine points.
Delaware’s Young cut the lead to 6-2 with an unassisted third period goal before Carolina finished the scoring.
Thunder goalie Taylor made 42 saves as Carolina outshot their hosts, 49-31. The weekend’s only fisticuffs occurred on Saturday when Delaware defenseman Charlie Pens, Jr. dropped the gloves with Carolina forward Michael Bunn at 6:19 of the opening period.
“Honestly, I thought out of the six periods we played against Carolina, we were right there even with them in four of these (sessions),” said Marker. “But it’s early in the season, and we will remain positive. We have to put in a lot of practice. I know this week we’ll work on solidifying the defensive coverage and special teams, and we will be ready to go next weekend.”
The Thunder travels to Elmira in southern New York due west of Binghampton for a pair of road games this weekend, then returns for a home-and-home against Mentor – Friday, Nov. 15 at the Thunderdome, and Saturday, Nov. 16 in the Ohio city located on Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland.
For ticket information regarding the Nov. 15 faceoff, please call (302) 398-PUCK or visit 168tickets.com.