Bednard, T-Birds Get Better of Wolf Pack, 4-2Sep 25, 2019
DANBURY, Conn. – The Springfield Thunderbirds opened their three-game preseason slate against their I-91 rivals and came away with a 4-2 victory on Wednesday night against the Hartford Wolf Pack at the Danbury Ice Arena.
The Wolf Pack jumped in front less than two minutes into the opening frame when Ryan Gropp raced down the right-wing on a 2-on-1 rush, snapping a left-handed wrister through T-Birds netminder Ryan Bednard to give Hartford the 1-0 edge.
The Pack had two chances in the period to add to their total with power play chances, including one man advantage that leaked into the middle period, but Springfield held the fort.
Rookie Aleksi Heponiemi nearly deadlocked the battle as he crashed the net looking for a Rodrigo Abols rebound, but new Wolf Pack goaltender Tom McCollum got a piece as he slid back to his glove side.
With 6:10 left in the opening period, Springfield did equalize courtesy of first-year defenseman Jake Massie. Joining Matt Marcinew on a 2-on-1 rush, Massie accepted a crisp saucer feed on the left side and wristed it through McCollum’s equipment to bring the game to a 1-1 draw, a score that stood heading into the first intermission.
Springfield’s first power play chance in the opening half of the second period did not go as intended, as the Wolf Pack instead re-took the lead on a shorthanded roof shot by Jeff Taylor.
The Thunderbirds were not rattled, however, and at the 11:21 mark of the second, Abols picked up his second point as he surprised McCollum with a bad-angle tally from the left circle on another Springfield power play to tie the game, 2-2.
As Springfield upped the offensive pressure, the Thunderbirds took their first lead with 1:06 left on the clock when Adam Rockwood led a 3-on-2 rush through the neutral zone. Blaine Byron moved over the left side and threw a cross-rink pass on the money to Jonathan Ang, who head-faked and snapped a wrister over Francois Brassard, who checked into the game, replacing McCollum. Despite being outshot 23-15 through 40 minutes, Springfield carried the 3-2 lead into the final period.
Bednard’s strong night continued in the third as both teams traded rushes over a lengthy stretch between whistles, but the 3-2 score remained intact. Included in the bunch was a breakaway denial following a collision in center between an official and a Springfield defender.
As Hartford emptied the net in a last-ditch effort, Byron cashed one into the empty cage with just eight seconds left to make the final score 4-2. Bednard finished the night with 32 saves on 34 shots.
Springfield continues the week by hosting one preseason tune-up against the Providence Bruins on Friday, Sep. 27 at 7:05 p.m. at the MassMutual Center.
The preseason slate comes to a close in Providence on Saturday, Sep. 28 at 7:05 p.m. at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. The regular season begins with Opening Night presented by MGM Springfield on Saturday, Oct. 5 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
For more ticket information or to become a 2019-20 Springfield Thunderbirds ticket package member, or to purchase single game tickets, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.