The Blue Ridge Bobcats fell in a valiant comeback effort in their inaugural meeting with the Carolina Thunderbirds by a final score of 4-1.
The Thunderbirds jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but the Bobcats continued to persist with unrelenting pressure and physicality.
The effort paid off in the second period, when Hunter Hall took advantage of a shorthanded breakaway and went under the bar with a beautiful backhand goal to make the score 2-1.
Carolina answered with two goals late in the second, the latter of which right at the buzzer, to extend to the eventual 4-1 final.
Christian Pavlas stopped 21 or 24 shots in net for the Bobcats.
Despite a valiant comeback effort in the third period, the Blue Ridge Bobcats fell to the Carolina Thunderbirds by a score of 4-1 for the second straight night.
Hunter Hall continued his hot offensive start to the season, muscling a tight angle shot through the five-hole of Carolina goaltender Mario Cavaliere at the 8;55 mark of the opening frame. Hall's fifth goal of the season, with assists from Josh Newberg and Dominic Matonach gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead that they carried into the second period.
Blue Ridge was mired by penalties in the second period, giving up a pair of power play goals to reigning league MVP Gus Ford. Jon Buttitta and Dominic Dumas added the other two middle frame markers for the Thunderbirds.
Connor Green came in net in relief of Christian Pavlas, who had stopped 26 of 30 Carolina shots through the first 40 minutes. Green was spectacular, stopping all 9 shots he faced with the majority being on high-danger scoring chances.
Green kept the Bobcats in the game, and Blue Ridge generated a wealth of scoring chances in the third but could not get the puck to bounce in their favor.
The Bobcats return home to the Apex Center next weekend for a two game tilt with the Mississippi Sea Wolves. Friday night's game begins at 7:30, and tickets are available at blueridgebobcats.com/tickets.