Bruins Battle Back to Earn Split of Home-and-Home

Jan 7, 2017

Springfield, MAThe Springfield Thunderbirds (14-13-4-2) were unable to earn a weekend sweep, instead settling for a split with the Providence Bruins (20-8-4-3) in a 4-1 loss at the MassMutual Center before a crowd of 6,313 on Saturday.

The Bruins came out of the gates with much more energy than they showed in a 4-1 defeat on Friday in Providence. For a second straight night, they earned a power play in the opening half of the opening period, but this time around, they converted.

Setting up in the high slot, Jake DeBrusk tipped a Tommy Cross shot between the legs of Springfield goaltender Reto Berra to break the ice at 7:19 and give the Bruins the 1-0 edge.

The Thunderbirds would have a golden opportunity to tie the score less than a minute later, as Chris Porter and Sean Kuraly each took minor penalties, setting up a 5-on-3 advantage for Springfield. However, Anton Khudobin and his defense thwarted all Springfield attempts.

The period would not be a total loss for the Thunderbirds, though. With less than 30 seconds to play, and with a delayed penalty in effect on the Bruins, Springfield raced Berra off the ice. With the extra skater on the rink, the Thunderbirds crowded the front of the net, allowing Shane Harper to hit Brent Regner on a cross-ice pass to the right circle. Regner’s one-touch attempt squeaked through Khudobin but came to rest on the goal line. Juho Lammikko quickly pounced on the loose disc to pick up his second goal in two nights from a nearly identical spot on the ice with just 19 seconds left in the period. 

A first period that saw a goal for each side also saw a pair of fights, with Ryan Horvat tangling with big defenseman Taylor Doherty, while Dylan McIlrath later traded exchanges with Noel Acciari. The teams picked up a combined 42 penalty minutes in period one alone, and the rough stuff was only just beginning.

Before the chaotic second period scraps began, the Bruins took the more important step in the game, taking a 2-1 lead on a goal by Wayne Simpson at 6:20. Simpson finished off a pass play in tight in front of Berra, tapping home a feed from Peter Cehlarik.

Then came the donnybrook, beginning with Chris Breen and Josh Brown trading punches for the night’s third set of fighting majors. Moments later, Jayce Hawryluk spilled goaltender Khudobin, earning a tripping minor. 

The Bruins would take advantage of a second Springfield penalty when Mike Downing was whistled for a high-stick. Colby Cave then finished off a passing play from Alex Grant for a power play goal with less than a minute to go in the second period, putting Providence on top, 3-1. 

Tempers then flared at the end of the period when Tim Bozon delivered a check after the horn, prompting a combined total of 26 minutes in penalties at the 20:00 mark of period two. In total, the two teams combined for 98 penalty minutes on the evening (Providence 55, Springfield 43). 

Providence started the third period on a man advantage, and even though they did not score, the Thunderbirds never got any closer. The Bruins added a late empty-net tally from their captain, Tommy Cross, to seal the victory.

With their three-game win streak snapped, the Thunderbirds next take to the ice on Wednesday for another Winning Weekday matchup at the MassMutual Center, as Springfield hosts the Albany Devils for the first time this season. Puck drop on Wednesday, Jan. 11 is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. 

Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 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) or visit

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