The Carolina Thunderbirds are starting to assemble their roster for this fall with commitments from Jay Kenney and Petr Panacek.

Kenney, who is a full-time Winston-Salem firefighter, was a fan favorite last season on the Thunderbirds’ run to the Federal Hockey League title. He didn’t play much late in the season and will play again on a limited basis.

“It’s great that Kenney is coming back to play more games for us this season, he just gives us a steadier back end,” said Jimmy Milliken, the Thuderbirds general manager. “Everyone loves him, in the locker room all the way to our fans.

“He’s a leader on and off the ice. Although he won’t be full time, he will definitely bring the team stability and depth.”

Last season, Kenney played in 17 games with two goals and seven assists. He also did a nice job as an enforcer on the ice, accumulating 50 penalty minutes.

Panacek is a native of Vysocany, Czech Republic, and in his first season with Carolina scored three key goals in the playoffs.

“We are excited to bring Petr back,” Milliken said. “As a rookie last season, he scored 18 goals and 36 assists in the regular season and got better as the year went along. We expect him to come in, build off a solid first year and have an even better season.”

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