Grenier Guides T-Birds Past BruinsJan 27, 2018
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (21-24-1-1) had a nearly flawless night on special teams in a 5-2 win over the Providence Bruins (25-15-3-1) in front of a sold out crowd of 6,793 at the MassMutual Center on Saturday night.
The T-Birds would be put on their heels very quickly on this night, as the Bruins scored just 11 seconds into the first period, the fastest goal scored in any Springfield Thunderbirds game. Kenny Agostino was the beneficiary off a centering pass from Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson in the right corner.
Springfield would not give the Bruins any more life, though. After T-Birds goaltender Evan Cowley made two tremendous breakaway saves off Ryan Fitzgerald and Matt Beleskey, Springfield would need to go shorthanded.
Despite the 1-0 deficit, Anthony Greco showed little panic, as he once again tallied a shorthanded goal, this one his league-leading fourth at 4:31. After Greco moved in on Jordan Binnington all alone only to see the Bruins goaltender make a save. The winger stayed in front of the net and Ryan Horvat alertly fed him with a slick pass from behind the net, where Greco tapped it past Binnington to tie the score. It was Greco's 18th goal of the season.
Less than three minutes later, the Thunderbirds power play got their first chance and made no mistakes. Maxim Mamin patiently held onto the puck in the right wing circle before playing cross-corner to to Juho Lammikko. Lammikko slickly one-touched a pass to the paint, where All-Star Classic participant Alex Grenier threw it past Binnington to make it 2-1 at 7:22.
Not even two more minutes later, the Thunderbirds made it a trifecta with an even strength goal to match their two special teams tallies. Greco held onto the puck behind the net and spotted Chase Balisy in the slot. Balisy one-timed the shot through Binnington to make it 3-1 at 8:53.
The 3-1 score held true through the later stages of the second period, with Cowley stopping 22 straight shots after allowing the Agostino goal. With another power play late in the second, Grenier picked up his second of the night with a similar move to the one that beat Binnington in overtime on Nov. 12.
With the puck on his stick behind the goal line on the right wing side, Grenier took a step out front before elevating a backhander over Binnington's stick to make it a 4-1 score with his 13th goal of the season.
After going 4-for-4 on their penalty kill to start the night, the Thunderbirds finally relented on a power play goal by Bruins All-Star Austin Czarnik at 2:56 of the third period, which made it a 4-2 game.
Not to be outdone, the T-Birds power play improved to 3-for-3 as Bobby Farnham raced through the slot to tip an Ian McCoshen shot over Binnington's shoulder for his eighth of the year at 5:13.
Cowley held the fort from that point forward with 34 saves on 36 shots for his second straight win, which doubled as his second 34-save victory over Providence in the last month.
Grenier heads for Utica and AHL All-Star Classic festivities tomorrow and Monday at the Adirondack Bank Center. Fans can follow Grenier's All-Star weekend through the Thunderbirds' social media channels, @ThunderbirdsAHL.
Springfield next hits the ice out of the All-Star break for a 7:00 p.m. matchup with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday, Feb. 2 at the Webster Bank Arena.
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.