Greco Plays Hero in 3rd Period Comeback WinMar 10, 2017
Syracuse, NY- The Springfield Thunderbirds (23-26-8-2) raced back from a third period deficit on Friday night to down the Syracuse Crunch (30-20-5-5) by a final score of 3-2 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena.
It appeared that the Thunderbirds may be gift-wrapped an advantage by the AHL's most penalized team, but Springfield could not take advantage of a Cory Conacher slashing minor that came just 32 seconds into the first period.
After Syracuse's successful kill, the Crunch had a shot advantage, but could not pierce their former teammate, Adam Wilcox, who was 10-for-10 on saves in the first period.
Late in the opening 20 minutes, the Thunderbirds finally broke the tie off a faceoff. After Chase Balisywon it back to Dryden Hunt, the rookie's shot was partially blocked. Fortunately for Paul Thompson, the puck found its way onto the veteran's stick, and Thompson beat Kristers Gudlevskis over the shoulder at 18:49 to put Springfield up 1-0 into the first intermission break.
Wilcox put an exclamation point on the period with a breakaway stop against Tye McGinn less than 30 seconds after Thompson's goal.
McGinn's missed opportunity at the end of the first only fueled his fire, though, and the winger tied the game at the 4:13 mark of the second. After a jam at the side of Wilcox's net, the puck trickled out into the slot, where McGinn was able to shuffle it past a pair of sprawled Thunderbirds to bring the game to a 1-1 deadlock.
Penalties reigned supreme in the second, beginning with Josh Brown's fight with Syracuse big man John Kurtz. The man advantage chances came in bunches for the Thunderbirds, with Springfield getting four more power plays, including over a minute of 5-on-3 time, but Gudlevskis and the Syracuse killers passed all the tests to keep the game even.
Syracuse then had a chance to take the lead late in the period with a power play, and then a second Springfield penalty set up Syracuse with a brief 5-on-3. Although the Crunch could not score on the two-man advantage, Byron Froese would take advantage of the 5-on-4, rifling his first goal as a Crunch player past Wilcox just 45 seconds into the third.
Undeterred, the Thunderbirds pressed on at even strength, and their speedster turned into a scoring machine in the third. First, at 10:08, Anthony Greco parked himself in front of the net to the right of Gudlevskis. Jared McCann took a shuffled pass from Jayce Hawryluk and somehow spotted Greco with a blind centering pass. Greco pumped it past Gudlevskis to tie the game at 2.
With less than two minutes to play and overtime appearing imminent, Greco then used his blazing speed to turn a 1-on-1 for Thompson into a 2-on-1, and Greco finished a one time pass through Gudlevskis' legs to give Springfield the 3-2 win with just 1:45 to go.
The final moments did not come easily for Springfield, as a late delay-of-game minor needed to be killed, but the Thunderbirds held on to snap their four-game winless slide.
Springfield will continue its weekend set on Saturday for Pink in the Rink night in Springfield against the Hartford Wolf Pack. The ice will be painted pink for the first time in Springfield hockey history, and the Thunderbirds will wear specialty jerseys for the occasion. Presented by Baystate Health and Health New England, the Pink in the Rink jerseys will be auctioned live after the game, with proceeds benefiting Rays of Hope. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey and brand new Collectors Mug. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.