3rd Period Push Comes Up Just Short in BridgeportNov 25, 2018
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - In their first of three games against their division rivals in their next four scheduled contests, the Springfield Thunderbirds (10-6-0-2) fell to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (11-6-2-1) by a final score of 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at the Webster Bank Arena.
The Thunderbirds got on the board just 2:35 into the first period when Jake Horton crashed the Bridgeport net and tapped home a centering feed by Bobby Farnham from point blank range, giving the T-Birds an early 1-0 lead. Matt Mangene picked up the secondary assist on the play, ending the T-Birds 62-minute scoring drought.
Just 47 seconds, after Julian Melchiori was called for hooking at 3:42, Sebastian Aho took a shot that hit Sam Montembeault and trickled behind him, only to be tapped in by Steve Bernier just before it crossed the goal line. Chris Bourque was given the secondary helper.
With just over 12 minutes to play in the second period, the T-Birds marched into the offensive zone with a 6-on-5 advantage after a delayed penalty was called on Aho. Defenseman Riley Stillman deked around Sound Tigers goaltender Christopher Gibson and nearly picked up his first professional goal, but was denied by the sprawling Sound Tiger goaltender.
Three minutes later, Farnham got ahead of the play on the offensive end and was the lone man by the puck. Farnham, however, could not get a good angle on the shot and never got a good shot off on net.
At 11:57, the Thunderbirds went back on the power play after Travis St. Denis was called for interference. Springfield spent the next 1:43 on the man advantage and in the offensive zone. The zone time paid off as Jayce Hawryluk tapped home a centering feed that hit off his skate. It was Hawryluk’s first goal since Oct. 28 vs. Hartford and gave Springfield the 2-1 lead off the set-up by Henrik Borgstrom and Ludwig Bystrom.
However, for the second time in the period, Bridgeport would get a response from their most experienced player. After a shot by Otto Koivula from the point was initially stopped by Montembeault, Bernier picked up the rebound and tapped it into the yawning net from short range and tied the game, 2-2.
Just over two minutes into the second period, Harry Zolnierczyk nearly gave the Thunderbirds a lead with a wrist shot from the right circle, but caught the crossbar behind Gibson, keeping the score tied.
At 5:09, Bernier completed his hat trick to give the Sound Tigers their first lead of the day, 3-2, on a shot that hit the side of the net, caromed off the end glass, then bounced back off of Montembeault and into the net. Scott Eansor and Aho picked up the assists on the strange tally.
Springfield managed only three shots in the middle period, while Bridgeport fired 14 at Montembeault’s crease. At 12:32, while operating on yet another power play, Bridgeport took a 4-2 lead on a one-timer by Aho. Chris Bourque and Sislo picked up the assists.
The T-Birds began the third period on the power play after Joel Lowry was tripped up by Aho as time expired in the second period. While they would not score on that man advantage opportunity, the Thunderbirds would eventually connect on a power play to get back within a goal.
Just eight seconds after Kyle Burroughs was called for high-sticking at 4:19 into the third period, Lowry redirected a shot by Jacob MacDonald from the left point, cutting the Sound Tigers lead to 4-3. Zolnierczyk was credited with the secondary assist after he won the faceoff.
Despite 15 third period shots and a 6-on-4 power play chance late in the period, the Thunderbirds never could find the equalizer. Gibson got the win with 25 stops, while Montembeault made 27 saves in defeat.
The Thunderbirds and Sound Tigers meet twice more in the span of the next seven days, beginning with a 7:05 p.m. tangle in Springfield on Wednesday night at the MassMutual Center.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including the lowest prices for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.