Grenier's Unforgettable Homecoming Highlights 5-1 WinApr 6, 2018
LAVAL, QC - The Springfield Thunderbirds (31-34-5-2) saw their offense be a relentless force in a 5-1 defeat of the Laval Rocket (24-40-7-2) on Friday night at Place Bell, completing a Thunderbirds' season sweep of the Rocket in the process.
The Thunderbirds got their first look at 19-year-old Panthers first round pick Owen Tippett on Friday night, and the high-scoring winger quickly paid dividends just 7:21 into his first period in the AHL. Five months after scoring his first NHL goal, Tippett picked up his first AHL goal, sliding a spinning backhand pass off of Rocket goalie Zach Fucale, with Eddie Wittchow providing a distraction at the edge of the crease.
Springfield's youngest-ever player got the team off to a strong start, and the Thunderbirds carried the play at 5-on-5, outshooting the Rocket 10-7 in the first period. However, Springfield's only penalty would come back to bite them as Chris Terry unleashed a wrister over the glove of Harri Sateri on a Laval power play at 11:29 to tie the game, 1-1. Fucale recovered from the strange Tippett goal to stop nine of ten shots he faced in the first, while Sateri stopped the six other shots he saw, aside from Terry's 30th goal of the season.
The Thunderbirds were in need of a jolt in the early stages of the second, and Josh Brown provided just that when he dropped the gloves at the 7:32 mark with Yannick Veilleux. In turn, Springfield's offense and energy levels both rose. Not even a minute later, with Wittchow again near the front of the net, Mark Fayne slapped one through Fucale at the right point to make it a 2-1 game at 8:16.
Springfield again would need to deal with a Laval power play, but their second effort was strong to deny the Rocket of a tying goal. In response, the Thunderbirds got insurance on a delayed penalty when Tim Erixon found Alex Grenier with a slap pass from the left point to the bottom of the right circle. Grenier had a wide open to net fire home his career-high 19th of the season at 13:38.
The Rocket mustered only five more shots in the second, making Sateri's night an easy one through 40 minutes, as the Springfield goalie needed to make just 11 saves in the first two frames.
Grenier, a Laval native, was far from finished on this night. After Sateri made a save off a Terry deflection in the opening 90 seconds of the third, Grenier found Bobby Farnham in a transition 3-on-2 rush, and Farnham beat Fucale at 1:24 of the third to push the Thunderbirds lead to 4-1.
The big winger would then add the exclamation point at 11:27 of the third with a one-time slapper that eluded Fucale's glove. Grenier's second goal and third point of the night gave him his first 20-goal season in his AHL career.
Sateri finished his night with 23 saves on 24 shots, and the Thunderbirds have now come away victorious in three of their last four games overall.
The Thunderbirds have just two road contests left in the 2017-18 season: a 5:00 p.m. tilt to close the I-91 series with Hartford on Sunday, and a 3:00 p.m. ET matinee in Providence on April 15 to close the season.
The Thunderbirds return home on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 for Fan Appreciation Weekend, featuring the final 3-2-1 Friday and MGM Springfield Pregame Concert Series to start the weekend. Then on Saturday, the fun begins at Court Square from 4-6 p.m. for a Block Party, presented by Community Bank. Then inside, there will be 2,500 Boomer Bobbleheads as a special giveaway, compliments of Stop & Shop.
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.