Mar 29, 2019

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -  The Springfield Thunderbirds (28-27-9-5) battled back to a tie late in the third following a Binghamton Devils (26-37-6-0) three-goal blitz, but ultimately came up short in a 4-3 overtime loss on Friday night at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.


Springfield’s defense and discipline were at their best in an opening period that saw the T-Birds outshoot Binghamton 11-4. Even though their top-ranked power play could not connect on three man advantage chances, their play was smart, as the Devils did not get a single power play in the first.


The T-Birds’ forechecking pressure directed led to the game’s first goal, as Anthony Greco raced in to cause a turnover by Ryan Murphy in the right corner. Jean-Sebastien Dea picked up the loose disc and filtered a centering backhander to a crashing Blaine Byron, who chopped it over the arm of Evan Cormier to make it 1-0 at 12:37.


Binghamton’s best chance of the opening period came while they were shorthanded, with Eric Tangradi all alone on a breakaway, but Chris Driedger was technically sound, closing the legs to deny a five-hole try from the veteran winger. That would be the Devils’ only clear-cut chance in a period that saw them outshot by the T-Birds, 11-4.


The Devils turned the tables in the second with four times as many shot attempts to keep Driedger extra busy. The penalty killers and Driedger kept the team in front with a series of stops early in the period, including three consecutive denials off of Murphy and Blake Pietila.


After surviving the early period blitz, Springfield again used a high effort play to extend its lead. This time, it was Thomas Schemitsch setting up the tally with a perfectly timed leap to keep a puck in with his glove at the blue line. His momentum carried him down to the left wing circle, where he backhanded a pass to Bobby Farnham in the crease. While Farnham could not beat Cormier, Byron was also right on the scene to swing the loose puck into the twine to make it a 2-0 score at 13:44.


The two-goal lead would not last long, though, as the Devils drew their second power play chance less than a minute later, and with the man advantage, John Quenneville snapped a wrister perfectly over Driedger’s shoulder at 14:49 to make it a 2-1 game heading into the final period, with the Devils now on top of the shot sheet, 20-17.


The Devils carried 1:29 of power play time into the start of the final period, but could not connect on that chance, and the T-Birds lead remained intact toward the middle stages of the final period. However, off a face-off win at 9:31, Ryan Schmelzer carried the puck to the front of the net, and after seeing the puck bounce at his feet, he elevated it through Driedger to tie the game, 2-2.


It would take less than two minutes for Binghamton to then take the lead as John Ramage raced up down the right wing and unleashed a laser of a slap shot past Driedger at 11:19 to make it 3-2.


Undeterred, Harry Zolnierczyk got the T-Birds back even off their own face-off play at 17:00, when Sebastian Repo threw a puck off Cormier’s equipment before the T-Birds alternate captain threw if upstairs for his 14th goal of the year to force overtime.


With back and forth chances both ways in the overtime, the frenetic extra session ended with the home fans going home happy as Brandon Gignac intercepted a clearing attempt and completed a perfect give-and-go with Pietila to bury the winner at 2:49 to keep Binghamton from being swept by Springfield in the season series. Driedger made 30 saves in the losing cause, while Cormier snapped a five-game losing streak of his own with 22 stops in the win.


The Thunderbirds head south down I-81 to complete their weekend road trip with another encounter with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. inside the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.


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