Comets Crash Gates; 2 Quick Goals Top T-Birds

Feb 11, 2017

Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-22-7-2) got knocked down by two early punches and never recovered in a 2-1 loss to the Utica Comets (19-20-6-2) on Saturday at the MassMutual Center. 

The Thunderbirds experienced a real-life version of a nightmare in the first 90 seconds of play on Saturday. It began when Brendan Gaunce moved into the slot, picked up a pass from Carter Bancks, and wristed a missile past Mike McKenna at 1:20 to give the Comets the 1-0 lead.

As if a goal against in the first 1:20 was not bad enough, things got worse for Springfield, as Curtis Valk moved in alone just eight seconds later and beat McKenna to the backhand for the second Utica goal in short order. 

The Thunderbirds managed only three shots on goal in the trying first period, but Springfield managed to make one of those tries count on a power play with less than three minutes on the first stanza clock. On a rush with the man advantage, with no screen and no deflection, Ian McCoshen fired a half slapper that eluded Richard Bachman through the five-hole. The defenseman’s first goal in three months got the home team back to a manageable 2-1 margin.

Springfield succumbed to a late penalty again, and Utica began the second period on the power play for 44 seconds on the heels of their strong opening frame. With a successful kill, though, the Thunderbirds put their foot to the accelerator, outshooting Utica 15-6 in a physical second period. 

Bachman was the difference for the Comets, as he made all 15 stops he needed to make as Springfield atoned for their lackluster start to the game. At the other end, McKenna stopped the six shots that came into his crease in a period that was spent mostly in the Utica zone.

The Utica goaltender made sure the early burst would stand up in the third, making 14 more stops in a frenetic frame. Springfield’s best chance came on an odd-man rush with both Paul Thompson andDenis Malgin getting denied by Bachman from close range. Utica managed all of 14 shots after the first period, and McKenna finished with 21 saves, but for a second straight start, received only one goal of support in defeat.

The Thunderbirds complete their first of three consecutive three-game, three-night weekends on Sunday when they visit the Providence Bruins for a 3:05 p.m. ET puck drop from the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

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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