Carolina Thunderbirds back for sixth season in the Federal Prospects Hockey League

The Carolina Thunderbirds are doing one thing proper or they nonetheless wouldn’t be enjoying in Winston-Salem as a part of the Federal Prospects Hockey League.

The Thunderbirds, who will start their sixth season, have endurance thank you in phase to a powerful, devoted fan base, unfastened parking and cheap tickets ($12 are the least expensive). It additionally doesn’t harm that they’ve win various video games having compiled a 155-71 regular-season document over the earlier 5 seasons with one league championship.

The Thunderbirds will start their sixth season on the street this weekend with a couple of video games at Port Huron in Michigan. Their first house sport is Oct. 29 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex at 6 p.m. towards the Delaware Thunder.

“We’ve got over 2,000 season tickets sold,” stated basic supervisor Kelly Curl, who could also be the staff’s emergency goalie if they want one. “We’re excited about (coach) Garrett Rutledge starting his second season and he’s brought in some real talented players.”

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Among the lengthy historical past of hockey in Winston-Salem the six years is the 2nd longest stint {that a} staff has stayed. Only the 1980’s and 90’s model of the Thunderbirds, who have been right here from 1981 via 1992, has an extended run.


Thunderbirds ahead Jiri Pestuka is the longest tenured participant on the staff. He will start his sixth season in Winston-Salem.

Curl says what is helping stay the Thunderbirds going are the many native sponsors, a powerful possession team (Barry Soskin, Cary Ross and Rick Chaikin), and the fanatics that flock to the video games. Saturday nights are in most cases the easiest attended video games and so they had a number of sellouts final yr.

Last season, the Thunderbirds ranked 3rd in league attendance averaging 2,400 in 31 video games.

On the pocket time table that the staff’s advertising and marketing division have passed out far and wide the town there are seven companies who ponied up which contains the whole lot from Kona Ice to Tattoo Therapy to Maple Chase Golf & Country Club. Other sponsors of the pocket time table have been Clemmons Veterinary Clinic, Pepsi, Black Sand Company and WTOB radio station, which is the flagship station that can broadcast each and every sport this season.

“It’s funny but sometimes we get a new sponsor and by midseason they want to upgrade their commitment,” Curl stated. “I think they see how much fun the games are and how much the fans are into it and they want to be a part of it.”

Helping make the hockey a good fortune is the City of Winston-Salem which owns the Annex. The staff has been practising in Greensboro however Curl stated the ice will have to be down at the Annex through the finish of the week.

“We hope we can practice next week to help get us ready for the home opener,” Curl stated.

As is the case with minor league hockey groups there’s a large turnover from yr to yr. Curl stated that only one participant, Jiri Pestuka, has been in Winston-Salem for all 5 earlier seasons. He used to be additionally a part of the league championship they received in the 2018-19 season.


Coach Garrett Rutledge of the Thunderbirds is back for his 2nd season.

What’s new with the league

The Thunderbirds will play 28 house video games however what’s modified is the league now has 10 groups.

There have been seven groups final season however with 10 groups this yr the league is divided into two divisions. The 3 new groups are The Motor City Rockers (close to Detroit), Elmira Mammoth (in New York) and the Mississippi Sea Wolves.

“Now Motor City and Port Huron both have teams and they are about an hour from each other,” Curl stated.

What’s new with the Thunderbirds

Curl stated there are a number of price tag programs to be had and what he says has been the maximum a hit are team gross sales.

As for returning gamers, Rutledge has a couple of back together with forwards Blake Peavey, Dawson Baker and Daniel Martin and defenseman Cody Oakes. Also high-scoring ahead Gus Ford is back after an excellent rookie season. During one stretch of nineteen video games final season with the Thunderbirds he had 20 targets and 20 assists.

“We like the way the team has shaped up and they are looking forward to the challenge,” Curl stated. “I just think with Garrett’s second year here in Winston it will be smoother, and we like that there are more teams in the league because there will be more of a variety.”

Along with the 28 house video games they are going to play 28 away video games and each and every sport will probably be broadcast survive WTOB (980 AM and 96.7 FM). Back once more as the voice of the Thunderbirds is Dillon Clark.

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