Dec 1, 2018

HERSHEY, Pa. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (12-6-0-2) snapped a four-game road losing streak dating back to Oct. 20 as they defeated the Hershey Bears (9-12-0-1) 4-2 on Saturday night at the Giant Center.

The night began inauspiciously for the Thunderbirds. Just 50 seconds into the first period, Nathan Walker gave the Bears an early 1-0 lead when he beat Sam Montembeault on a short side wrister from the left faceoff circle. Aaron Ness picked up an assist on the goal.

The first ten minutes of the period were littered with physical battles, and included two fights. In total, the opening 20 minutes finished with 30 total penalty minutes between the clubs.

The first bout came at 3:14 between when Bobby Farnham and Walker dropped the mitts and the second came at 5:57 between Ryan Horvat and Liam O’Brien.

The physicality continued at 7:28 when Matt Mangene and Shane Gersich shoved each other a few times after Mangene took exception to a late hit after the whistle was blown for icing. Both players were given matching two minute minor penalties for roughing, causing a 4-on-4 to follow.

After Hershey won the opening faceoff in the second period, Walker marched into the T-Birds zone and got a shot off from point blank range on Montembeault, but the Thunderbirds’ young goaltender kept his club within a goal.

Shortly thereafter, at the 1:36 mark of the second period, Henrik Borgstrom hit a streaking Anthony Greco, who scored his fourth goal in two games on a breakaway, beating Hershey goaltender Ilya Samsonov glove side and tying the game at 1-1.

40 seconds later at 2:16, Jayce Hawryluk played catch with Blaine Byron who beat a sprawling Samsonov glove side on a one-time connection to give the T-Birds a 2-1 lead early in the second period. With the helper, Hawryluk extended his point streak to three games.

Walker would tie things up a few minutes later, as he positioned himself right in front of Montembeault and redirected a shot by Riley Barber off a face-off to tie the game at 2-2. Former Thunderbird Mike Sgarbossa picked up a secondary helper on the play.

10 minutes into the period, the Thunderbirds marched into the Hershey zone and were initially stopped on a bevy of net-front chances, but persistence paid off as Jacob MacDonald dug the puck out of a sea of bodies and scored from just in front of the left faceoff dot, giving Springfield a 3-2 lead. Joel Lowry and Harry Zolnierczyk were the last two T-Birds to touch the puck and were credited with the helpers.

With Hershey trying to mount a comeback in the final period and the Thunderbirds defense suffocating their opponents in the neutral zone, Springfield tacked on some insurance. Just over 11 minutes into the third, Horvat cleared the puck out of the Thunderbirds defensive zone, and Greco picked it up on the left wing, raced past Colby Williams and beat Samsonov in tight to give Springfield the 4-2 lead. The goal was Greco’s fifth in his last two games.

In the final minute of play in the third period, with Samsonov pulled, Greco got three separate chances to collect his second consecutive hat-trick, but narrowly missed out on the feat.

Following a ride back from Hershey, the Thunderbirds turn it around quickly and take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the third and final time this week on Sunday for a 3:05 p.m. matinee at the MassMutual Center.

Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit 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

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