Greco Hat Trick, Montembeault's 40 Saves Lead T-Birds Past BridgeportNov 28, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (11-6-0-2) continued its home ice dominance over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (12-7-2-1) with a 5-2 triumph on Wednesday night at the MassMutual Center. The win marked Springfield's eighth straight victorious result against Bridgeport inside the MassMutual Center, dating back to March of 2017.
After scoring the last goal in Sunday’s game on the road in Bridgeport, the Thunderbirds came into Wednesday’s game looking to build off their strong final road period.
In the opening minute of the first period, Anthony Greco took a shot that careened off of Bridgeport goaltender Jeremy Smith’s pads and to his right directly to the stick of a streaking Ryan Horvat, but the veteran winger could not get a clean shot off on goal.
The Thunderbirds’ strong start would pay off, though. At 3:10 of the first period, Greco dug a loose puck out of some Bridgeport bodies in the slot and beat Smith on the blocker side, giving the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead. The goal was Greco’s first since Oct. 20 in Laval. Horvat was credited with an assist on the play, his second of the season and first point with the T-Birds since Apr. 8 vs. Hartford.
Just over eight minutes later, and 29 seconds after Bobby Farnham was called for interference, Greco charged into the Sound Tigers zone and took a shot on Smith that trickled behind him and into the net for a shorthanded goal, making it 2-0. The goal was Greco’s first shorthanded tally this season; the third-year winger led all AHL players with six shorthanded markers in 2017-18.
Later in the period, Farnham was called for unsportsmanlike conduct at 14:07. While the T-Birds killed the penalty off successfully, the Sound Tigers still pressured and struck, as Michael Dal Colle knocked a rebound past Montembeault just seven seconds after the power play ended, cutting the T-Birds lead to 2-1 at 16:14.
Both teams were unable to break the 2-1 stalemate in the second period despite some good chances on both ends. Montembeault was at his acrobatic best in turning aside all 16 Bridgeport attempts in the middle frame.
With less than five minutes to play in the second period, the Thunderbirds were down two men after Joel Lowry was called for holding and 1:24 later, Jayce Hawryluk was called for delay of game. The Springfield penalty kill, en route to a 4-for-4 night, managed to survive the threat and take the 2-1 lead into the final period.
Springfield got some comfortable insurance in the opening half of the final stanza. 2:16 into the period, Patrick Bajkov deflected a rink-wide feed from Hawryluk in behind Smith to make it 3-1 early on. Jonathan Ang was credited with a secondary helper.
5:51 later, Hawryluk corralled a pass to the front of the net, this time from Thomas Schemitsch. Hawryluk’s effort resulted in another tap-in as he was falling toward the ice. His second goal in two games against the Sound Tigers gave the T-Birds a 4-1 lead. Ang got credited with a second assist in the period in addition to Schemitsch.
Finally, with anticipation building and more than five minutes of continuous action ensuing, Greco finished his hat trick at 19:32 of the period and Smith pulled for the extra-attacker. Greco took a feed from captain Paul Thompson and threw it into the empty net to complete his first three-goal game as a pro.
The Thunderbirds next take to the ice on Saturday against the Hershey Bears with the puck drop slated for 7:00 p.m. The Thunderbirds will then turn around and rematch the Sound Tigers on Sunday for a 3:05 p.m. matinee.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including the lowest prices for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.