Greco's Goal Energizes T-Birds Past Comets on Pink in the Rink NightMar 10, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (28-28-4-1) got back at the Utica Comets (30-21-6-4) on Saturday night, scoring two shorthanded goals en route to a 4-0 triumph win in front of a sold out MassMutual Center on Saturday's Pink in the Rink Night.
The Thunderbirds came out in the first period with plenty of energy after Sam Montembeault turned away the game’s first top-notch scoring chance from Griffen Molino in the early moments. The rookie netminder stopped all seven shots thrown at him in the opening 20 minutes.
At the other end, the Thunderbirds used a shorthanded situation to vault to the lead. On a night supporting the fight against breast cancer, perhaps it was most fitting that a player with a much-too-close tie to the disease doing the honors. Just months after losing his aunt to breast cancer, Anthony Greco earned his sixth shorthanded marker of the season, his 25th overall, and his fourth consecutive game with a tally in one motion as he one-touched a Ryan Horvat saucer pass through Richard Bachman at 10:16 of the first.
From there, it was all Thunderbirds through the end of the period, as Springfield registered 13 of the final 15 shots of the first, and Bachman was strong for Utica to limit the damage to a 1-0 score after one frame.
The Thunderbirds offense came out with a purpose in the second and made sure the sold out crowd would go home happy. It all started with an opportunistic 5-on-3 set up by penalties to Tony Cameranesi and Cam Darcy. Darcy’s penalty warranted a four-minute high sticking call to set up the advantage.
From there, Thunderbirds All Star Alex Grenier rifled home his AHL hardest shot with a one-time bomb from the left wing circle to make it a 2-0 game at 6:23.
From there, the Thunderbirds would be the team that had to batten down the hatches on two separate Utica two-man advantages. Both times, Montembeault and the penalty kill held its ground to preserve the 2-0 lead. Moments after the second of those disadvantages, Bobby Farnham exited the penalty box and dropped a right wing feed for Jayce Hawryluk, who scored his first goal since Jan. 12 with a one-time knuckler that skipped past Bachman at 16:06.
Farnham would end up in the doghouse of the referee, however, as he was penalized for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following the goal celebration. Despite his presence in the box, the Thunderbirds offense did not relent, and just 1:41 later, Sam Kurker tipped a Balisy feed over Bachman’s glove to give Springfield its second power play goal of the night to put the capper on the sold out night.
With the 4-0 lead in the third, the Comets could only muster eight attempts at net, which Montembeault easily turned away for his second career shutout, this one a 21-save outing.
Springfield looks to extend its point streak to 10 games on Sunday when they finish up a busy three-game weekend with a trip to Bridgeport on Sunday in a battle with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 3:00 p.m.
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 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.