Greco's 4-Point Night Paces T-Birds Past Sound TigersDec 22, 2017
Springfield, MA - The Springfield Thunderbirds (13-18-1-0) tallied the first three goals of the night in the opening 20 minutes en route to a 5-2 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-12-2-1) at the MassMutual Center on Friday.
Springfield trudged their way through a slow start, as the Sound Tigers registered the game's first four shots, including a dangerous, high-arching rebound that rolled dangerously close to the goal line behindSam Montembeault. Johnny-on-the-spot was Tim Erixon to sweep the puck off the goal line to keep the game scoreless.
Bridgeport had a chance to break the scoreless tie on their first power play of the game when Anthony Greco was whistled for a trip. The Sound Tigers did not connect, and Greco would be the one to make them pay three times over.
First, with Greco leaving the box, Erixon spotted the Thunderbirds winger in center with Curtis Valk. On the ensuing two on one, Greco left the puck for Valk, and after freezing goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, Valk elevated a shot into the top left corner for his ninth of the season to open the scoring at 9:57 of the first.
Not even five minutes later, Greco was at it again. After the Thunderbirds had its second power play go unsuccessfully, Eddie Wittchow hit Greco through the neutral zone with speed. With three defenders surrounding him, Greco managed to dance to the right circle. Despite being off-balance and losing a glove shortly after releasing a punch shot, Greco was able to finish it off for his team-leading 11th goal of the season at 14:25.
Just 35 seconds later, Greco found the puck on his tape again, this time at the left circle. His turnaround slap shot was kicked away by Gudlevskis, but Rob Hamilton found his way to the slot area from his defense post and bashed home his first AHL goal to make it 3-0 in the final five minutes of the period.
At the other end, Montembeault was not tested much after the early Bridgeport push, denying 10 of 10 in the opening frame.
Bridgeport may have been sloppy with the puck in the first, but they responded with a high-energy second period. In the opening minutes of the frame, the Sound Tigers got back to within two when Mitchell Vande Sompel beat Montembeault on a long one-timer through traffic to make it 3-1 at 6:18.
With a power play later in the period, the Sound Tigers got back within one on a shot from the left circle by Josh Ho-Sang at 12:01.
The score stayed 3-2 through much of the third period, and Montembeault made a highlight-reel, circus glove save on Ben Holmstrom on a shorthanded bid to preserve the lead.
In his first game back with the Thunderbirds since early November, Dryden Hunt finally gave Montembeault some insurance with a wrist-shot snipe over Gudlevskis at 17:48 of the third to make it 4-2.
Greco capped off the first four-point night in Thunderbirds history with an empty netter with less than five seconds to play. The win was Springfield's fourth straight triumph on home ice, three of which have come against the Sound Tigers.
The Thunderbirds continue their five-game homestand on Saturday night with a pre-holiday tuneup with the Providence Bruins at the MassMutual Center. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.