Evansville, In.:  In an extremely close game fitting for playoff hockey, the Thunderbolts and Bulls took game two of this best-of-three series to overtime, where Chays Ruddy scored to win the game for Evansville 2-1 on Thursday at Ford Center, forcing a winner-take-all game three in Pelham on Saturday night.


Once again, the Bulls were the ones to open the scoring, with Drake Glover scoring on a power play only 3:38 into the first period to give Birmingham the opening lead.  Evansville managed to stop the bleeding at one goal, and in the second period tied the game as Mark Zhukov scored at 4:44 from Brendan Harrogate and Vadim Vasjonkin to tie the game at 1-1.  After a scoreless third period, the game went to overtime, becoming only the second game in Thunderbolts playoff history to go past 60 minutes.  On a power play at 10:21 of the first overtime period, Ruddy scored the game-winning goal with a screened shot from the point, assisted by Matthew Hobbs and Harrogate to win the game for Evansville 2-1, for the first overtime win in Thunderbolts’ playoff history.  Also of note in this performance was the play of Cole Ceci in net, the power play units which scored in their second consecutive game, and the penalty kill units which recovered from an early power play goal to shut down the Bulls on their next five attempts.


Zhukov and Ruddy scored Evansville’s goals, while Harrogate tallied a pair of assists.  In goal, Ceci finished with 34 saves on 35 shots for his first professional playoff win, becoming the second goaltender in franchise history to win a playoff game, following Ryan de Melo in 2018.  Game three between the Thunderbolts and Bulls will be on Saturday at the Pelham Civic Complex, the winner advancing to the President’s Cup Semifinal.