Balisy Treats Fans to OT Win in ThrillerOct 29, 2016
(Photo Courtesy Danny Baxter)
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (4-2-0) fought back from a third period deficit for the second time in as many Saturday nights as they pulled out a 2-1 overtime thriller over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (4-1-1) at the MassMutual Center before a crowd of 6,157.
The first period continued to provide troubles for the Thunderbirds, who entered the evening with just two first stanza goals through the first five games of the regular season. The better news for Springfield, though, was that the penalty kill came up with a successful two minutes after the Penguins got the game's first power play at 7:36 of the opening frame.
The Thunderbirds and Penguins played evenly and at a fast pace in the opening period when the game was five-on-five, with both teams launching eight shots on net. Mike McKenna made seven saves for Springfield, but a deflection by Jean-Sebastien Dea found its way home with 1:47 left in the opening period to push the Penguins in front 1-0.
Tristan Jarry, who entered the game with a dazzling .950 save percentage, stopped all eight Thunderbird offerings in the first 20 minutes.
Jarry would not need much work in the second period, as his squad controlled much of the play to the tune of a 16-4 shot advantage in the second. However, McKenna stole the show for the Thunderbirds, as he kept the fort secure and maintained the one-goal deficit for his club with 23 saves in his first two periods of work.
McKenna's best stop came in the period's final moments, as Tim Erixon creeped down the left wing and snapped a one-time pass from Josh Archibald toward the open goal. McKenna anticipated the play brilliantly and slid from left to right to fend off the final attempt of the frame.
Springfield's best chance of the second period came on a brief 4-on-3 power play which turned into a standard 5-on-4, but the Penguins' league-best penalty kill (23 of 24 entering Saturday) once again proved successful.
On this night, though, the power play awoke from its slumber in the third. Jakub Kindl played a puck toChase Balisy on the right wing side. Balisy one-touched a pass in front to Paul Thompson, who settled the puck and shuffled a backhander over a fallen Jarry to tie the score with 9:35 to go in regulation. It was the second straight game that Springfield connected on a power play after entering the weekend with just one man-advantage goal through the first four games of its season.
Thompson's tying tally forced overtime for the second straight Saturday night. After the Penguins failed to strike on two odd-man rush chances, the Thunderbirds went on the attack. After Kevin Porter missed the net on a left wing shot, the puck shot to center ice, where Balisy got to it in front of the Penguins defense. With the game on his stick, Balisy calmly held the puck on his backhand and tucked it past a sprawled-out Jarry at 1:30 of overtime to provide the second extra time win in three games for the home side.
McKenna finished his night with 27 saves for his second victory in a row. The Thunderbirds take to the ice one final time on Sunday afternoon for a matinee rematch against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 3:00 p.m. ET at the Webster Bank Arena. Coverage can be heard on NewsRadio 560 WHYN.
The Thunderbirds are back on home ice next Friday, Nov. 4 against the Hershey Bears for T-Birds Bobble Election Night presented by MassLive. Figurines of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton outfitted in T-Birds gear will be available to fans upon entry, and the first bobblehead to sell out will be declared the winner of the inaugural T-Birds Bobble Election.
Next Friday is also the second installment of $1 Night and the Pregame Concert Series presented by MGM Springfield featuring musical performances by John & Christine Cantalini. Through the start of the second period, hot dogs, sodas, and popcorn will be sold for just one dollar.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625).