Balisy Buries Two in Third in 2-1 WinDec 10, 2016
(Photo Courtesy St. John's IceCaps)
St. John's, NL– The Springfield Thunderbirds (10-9-3-2) struck for two goals in 1:08 in the final period and hung on late to earn a 2-1 win and a split of the weekend series with the St. John's IceCaps (13-12-1-0) at the Mile One Centre.
After a five-goal, turnover-riddled first period on Friday night, the Thunderbirds and IceCaps each tightened up defensively in the opening 20 minutes on Saturday. Reto Berra got his first start in five games and made seven first period saves.
St. John’s did let two golden opportunities slip through their grasp in the period, as Bobby Farnham missed the net from the slot on a 3-on-2 rush early in the period, and then IceCaps leading scorer Chris Terry missed the net on a clean breakaway against Berra halfway through the frame.
Just as Joey Diamond had done on Friday night, fellow Thunderbirds rookie Eddie Wittchow dropped the gloves with veteran tough guy David Broll to inject some energy into the defensive-minded first period. Later in the period, tensions continued to boil as Farnham and Sena Acolatse got engaged in a grappling match in Berra’s goal mouth.
Ultimately, Berra and St. John’s goaltender Charlie Lindgren were the stars of the first, with Lindgren making 11 saves and Berra denying seven IceCaps offerings.
The goaltenders continued to make all saves presented to them in the second, including a pair of power play chances for the Thunderbirds, who could not pierce Lindgren following penalties by Julien Brouillette and Jonathan Racine.
Wittchow then picked up his second fighting major of the night, this time challenging Jeremy Gregoire at the 4:49 mark of period two. The defenseman was given a mandated game misconduct for his second scrap, but not before he received plenty of praise from his teammates.
As the scoreless game neared the end of the second, St. John’s earned another late power play chance, this time off a Dryden Hunt high-sticking penalty, but failed to score on the front half of the power play that exhausted the second period clock.
The Thunderbirds successfully killed off the back half of the St. John’s power play to start period three, and from there Springfield finally struck for the first offensive strike of the night.
At 7:49 of the period, Josh Brown took a feed from Anthony Greco along the blue line at the right point. Brown faked a slap shot and instead fired a pass to Chase Balisy in the slot area. With Lindgren out to challenge, Balisy outwaited the goaltender with good poise, tucking a backhander home to give Springfield the 1-0 lead.
Balisy was not finished, either, as just 1:08 later he struck again. Shane Harper took a one-time blast that Lindgren kicked out in front onto Balisy’s waiting stick. The former IceCap’s second goal of the night provided insurance and a 2-0 lead.
The IceCaps would not go away quietly, and on a power play with the goaltender pulled, Jacob de la Rose picked up his first of the season at 17:49 to cut the lead to 2-1.
From there, Berra stole the show, denying a redirection try by Stefan Matteau and a rebound at point blank range from Daniel Audette.
Berra’s sixth victory of the season was a 30-save performance, his first win in the nets since he shut out Binghamton on the road on Nov. 12.
The Thunderbirds return home to begin another three-game, three-night sequence on Friday against the Binghamton Senators at the MassMutual Center. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m., and tickets are available via www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com or by calling (413) 739-GOAL.