Desrosiers Holds Fort for Wild Shootout WinDec 31, 2019
WILKES-BARRE, Penn. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (18-16-2-0) answered an early wake-up call after falling behind 2-0, then saw their netminder shine for a 5-4 shootout win on New Year's Eve against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (17-12-3-2) at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
The T-Birds’ pattern of scoreless periods came to a screeching halt through 20 wild minutes on New Year’s Eve. It would not begin promisingly for the T-Birds, as the Penguins tallied two times in 18 seconds to jump to a 2-0 lead on tallies from Sam Miletic at 7:38 and Andrew Agozzino at 7:56. Miletic located a centering pass in his feet and shuffled a forehand shot over the glove of Philippe Desrosiers, and Agozzino batted an aerial puck behind Desrosiers right in the crease to extend the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lead.
Springfield was down, but far from defeated as captain and former Penguin Paul Thompson sparked a crazy first period comeback when he raced down the left wing, drew a delay tripping call, but still successfully rolled the puck past Casey DeSmith to cut the Penguin lead to 2-1 at 11:46. Less than two minutes later and armed with a power play advantage, Thompson, Aleksi Saarela, and Dryden Hunt combined for a pretty goal to tie the score, 2-2, at 13:33. Saarela hit Thompson in the left-wing corner, and Hunt stationed himself in the slot for a one-time, one-touch feed from Thompson that eluded DeSmith.
The Thunderbirds then saw their newest former Penguin haunt his old team under controversial circumstances. After Ryan Haggerty crashed the crease only to get stopped by DeSmith, he and Jonathan Ang chopped away at the rebound, and with Haggerty pushed into DeSmith, the puck eventually squeaked home to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead at 16:54.
The Penguins drew a power play and, still salty about the goal call on the Haggerty tally, took advantage with Jan Drozg snapping a shot from the left-side wall off a body and past Desrosiers with just 20.4 seconds in left in the first period to send the game into intermission all tied, 3-3.
The second period was a near-reverse of the first, with the only goal coming just 2:07 into the period with Joel Lowry beating DeSmith over the glove hand to give Springfield a 4-3 lead. DeSmith and Desrosiers were otherwise perfect, and both goalies had spectacular stops in their highlight reel. Desrosiers kept Chase Berger from the tying the game on a shorthanded bid from point blank range, as he sprawled with the left pad to stonewall the Penguin penalty killer. DeSmith then got the better of Lowry on his own shorthanded bid moments later.
The Penguins trailed entering the third, but Thomas di Pauli got Wilkes-Barre/Scranton back even as he chopped a backhander through Desrosiers at the side of the goal at 6:32 of the final period. That tie score carried into the overtime period, and the T-Birds even had a power play chance to end matters, but DeSmith and the Penguins held strong to force a shootout.
Desrosiers was the brick wall in the end, stopping Kevin Roy, Jake Lucchini, and Anthony Angello to pick up his third straight shootout win and his second against the Penguins since the start of November. Henrik Borgstrom improved to 4-for-4 in his AHL career in shootouts with the deciding goal on a backhander to the top shelf behind DeSmith to start the shootout.
The T-Birds continue their road trip as they visit the Utica Comets on Friday night for a 7:00 p.m. start inside the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
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.