BROWN'S LAST-SECOND MISSILE CAPS WILD CLOSE TO 5-4 T-BIRDS WINDec 30, 2017
Hartford, CT - The Springfield Thunderbirds (14-19-1-1) survived a game with many ups and downs before emerging victorious by a score of 5-4 against the Hartford Wolf Pack (13-15-3-3) on Saturday night at the XL Center.
The Thunderbirds would not get on the board first on this night, as rugged winger Eric Selleck opened the scoring at 7:03 of the first. As Sam Montembeault was trying to get back in position, Caleb Herbert set up the former Springfield Falcon for a one-time blast that put Hartford on top 1-0.
However, Springfield's first period success would continue with another two-goal performance in short order. First, with Alex Georgiev fending off multiple whacks in front of the goal, Maxim Mamin elevated a rebound over the fallen Hartford goalie at 8:05 to tie the score, 1-1.
Just 1:11 later, the Thunderbirds took their first lead of the game after some extended offensive zone time. Covering up at the left point for a defenseman, Bobby Farnham unleashed a slapper that made its way through traffic and past Georgiev to put Springfield in front, 2-1, at 9:16.
Springfield had a golden opportunity to extend the lead past the midway point of the period when Selleck and Adam Chapie took minor penalties at the same time to set up a full two-minute 5-on-3 for the T-Birds. However, the Wolf Pack kill survived the spell, including a narrow miss off the crossbar from Jayce Hawryluk to preserve the 2-1 score.
Special teams would haunt the Thunderbirds again in the second period, as the Springfield power play came up empty on three more chances, with some clutch saves from Alex Georgiev mixed into a period that saw 14 T-Birds shots on goal.
At the other end, Hartford made their lone power play of the second period count, as Scott Kosmachuk whistled a wrister past Montembeault from the left wing circle at 7:18 to tie the game, 2-2. Kosmachuk's goal was his eighth of the season, four of which have come against Springfield.
The third period was a wild ride to the end of 2017 from start to finish, beginning with Juho Lammikko breaking a 2-2 tie with a breakaway goal on his backhand at 3:32 to make it a 3-2 game.
But as it would be continuously in this one, the lead was fleeting, as Joe Whitney tied the game, 3-3, just 53 seconds later off feeds from Chris Langkow and Adam Tambellini.
Springfield backed itself into a corner moments later, as Blaine Byron took a minor penalty for hooking at 6:17. With the 5-on-4 ongoing, Montembeault made a save-of-the-year caliber stop on Ryan Sproul with a diving paddle save, lurching to his right.
However, in the midst of that huge stop, the Thunderbirds took two more penalties, as Josh Brown and Mike Downing were whistled for simultaneous penalties. With the T-Birds down two-men for upwards of two minutes, Montembeault held the fort down en route to a Thunderbirds' franchise-record 44 saves, including a single period team record 21 in the third period.
After the 5-on-3 ended, the Wolf Pack took advantage of the remaining time in the 5-on-4, as Neal Pionk bashed home his first AHL goal at 9:39 of the third.
The 4-3 lead lasted until the final 1/3 of the period. Downing led a rush into the offensive zone alongside Alex Grenier, and Farnham took a pass on the right wing side before snapping his second goal of the game through Georgiev at 14:54.
The tie game lasted into the game's final seconds, but Springfield would ultimately claw its way on top to close the night. After Mamin and Hawryluk created a turnover behind the net, Curtis Valk held the puck at the right post before dropping it for Brown. Brown stepped into the one-timer and cranked it past Georgiev to steal the game away from Hartford at 19:55 of the third period.
The win was just Springfield's third away from home all season, with two of the three victories coming at the XL Center. Tonight's barnburner was just the first of five road games between now and Jan. 14. Springfield's lone return home will be on Saturday, Jan. 6 for Blast from the Past Night against the Providence Bruins, in which the T-Birds will wear Springfield Indians throwback jerseys. Springfield will next take to the ice on Friday, Jan. 5 in Wilkes-Barre for a tangle with the Penguins.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.