Bruins Lock Down T-Birds, 3-1Feb 3, 2017
(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins)
Providence, RI - The Springfield Thunderbirds (16-20-6-2) could not solve a suffocating defense, and the Providence Bruins (26-12-5-3) took a 3-1 decision from Springfield on Friday at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Whereas the last meeting between the Bruins and Thunderbirds went almost a full 60 minutes without a goal, this Friday night would feature some instant offense before the halfway mark of the first.
After both teams killed off abbreviated, overlapping power play chances, the Bruins jumped to the initial lead as former Springfield Falcon Alex Grant wristed home his third goal against Springfield in six games to put Providence on top, 1-0, at 9:15.
The answer for Springfield, however, would be just as swift as the Grant opener. After Juho Lammikkoand Sena Acolatse teamed up to dig the puck off the far side wall, Mike Downing wasted little time flipping a bouncing shot from the left point. The dipping, bouncing puck escaped the reach of Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban, and Graham Black received credit for the goal at 10:35 to tie the score, 1-1.
Much like Springfield did, the Bruins answered an opposing goal in short order, albeit amid some controversy. Tyler Randell fired a right wing shot on Reto Berra. While Berra made the first stop, the rebound sat in the slot area, where Noel Acciari screamed in to bat it toward the goal. Berra fell, the net became dislodged, but after replay review, the officials deemed the goal to count, giving the Bruins a 2-1 edge at 12:04, a lead they carried into the first intermission break. Providence outshot Springfield 10-7 in the first period.
The second period of bouncing puck after bouncing puck brought with it scary moments for both teams, with Berra and Subban trading save for save. Berra came up with two separate point blank stops on Matt Grzelcyk and Wayne Simpson, which highlighted his 20 stops through two periods.
Neither team was able to strike with handfuls of power play chances, and Springfield improved its penalty kill streak to 19 consecutive successful kills.
Springfield successfully made it 20 straight penalties killed when they kept a Jared McCann slash from hurting them, but at full strength, the Bruins extended their lead. After catching up to a loose puck he lost off his blade, Jake DeBrusk found Danton Heinen from the left wing side, and as he crashed the slot, Heinen handled the pass and elevated a rising wrist shot over Berra’s blocker to put the Bruins ahead by two, 3-1.
The Thunderbirds would get no closer as the Bruins’ lock-down defense kept Springfield at bay; Subban had a relatively easy third period, finishing his night with 25 stops.
Springfield’s streak of five straight road games with a point came to a close, while the Bruins stopped a skid of three losses in four games.
The Thunderbirds now sit 14 points back of the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, currently held by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Springfield will see the Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena on Saturday and Tuesday night for a pair of important contests in the playoff race. Bridgeport has now won eight games in a row.
The Thunderbirds are back on MassMutual Center ice on Friday, Feb. 10 as Ric Flair makes a visit to Springfield for "Throwback Night" with a piece of Flair. Flair's special appearance, presented by Big Y and Lia Auto Group. Additionally, the evening also marks Big Y Family Night, where Big Y Silver Savings Club Card holders can save $5 on tickets (NOTE: this offer cannot be combined with Ric Flair packages).
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 www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.