Hawryluk's 2-Point Night Not Enough in Frustrating BattleDec 7, 2018
UTICA, N.Y. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (12-7-1-2) saw their frustrations get the best of them in a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Utica Comets (11-13-1-1) at the Adirondack Bank Center Friday night.
Both teams entered Friday night’s action with top-5 power play units in the AHL, and neither unit showed signs of slowing down in the opening 20 minutes. Springfield drew first blood at the 4:16 mark. After Ashton Sautner was put in the box for a Utica high-sticking infraction, the Thunderbirds’ man advantage went to work.
After Blaine Byron took a shot on a rolling puck from the left circle, Jayce Hawryluk found his way to the front of the goal and softly redirected the bouncing puck over Thatcher Demko’s leg pad to give the Thunderbirds the 1-0 lead.
Springfield kept the Comets at bay for much of the period, but Hawryluk put his team behind the eight-ball when he took a pair of simultaneous minor penalties to put his team down by a man for four minutes. After another Springfield penalty, Utica connected on a tying score in a 5-on-3 at 18:29, as Jonathan Dahlen bashed a backhand rebound through Sam Montembeault to bring the game to a 1-1 tie into the first intermission. Utica outshot Springfield 10-7 in the first period.
Hawryluk had a chance to pot his second of the game on a breakaway at the midway point of regulation. Demko made the blocker save, but left the rebound in the slot, and Sebastian Repo jammed a snap shot through the goaltender’s legs to give Springfield a 2-1 lead at 10:09.
From there, the Thunderbirds’ discipline took a poor turn, and with a combined five power play chances late in the period, Utica tied the score on a delayed penalty when Dahlen ripped a shot by Montembeault at 15:01. Then with a two-man advantage once again, Utica took its first lead as Jesse Graham blasted a clean faceoff through Montembeault at 18:55.
Through two periods, Utica had seven power plays; the Thunderbirds received only two.
After Springfield killed a penalty to start the third, the Comets did not let the Thunderbirds off the hook, as Carter Bancks tapped home a loose puck past Montembeault after a Dylan Blujus point shot snuck into the blue paint.
Less than five minutes later, the Comets put the game out of reach as Tanner Kero fielded a pass on the left post in front of Montembeault from Darren Archibald and beat the Springfield goaltender to make it 5-2.
Montembeault finished his night with 25 saves, while Demko improved to 3-0 in his career against Springfield by making 23 stops.
The Thunderbirds return home for their first matchup against the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday night inside the MassMutual Center. The night marks the 3rd Annual Teddy Bear Toss, presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas. Those in attendance are encouraged to bring new or gently used stuffed animals to throw onto the ice in celebration of the Thunderbirds' first goal of the game. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com or by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
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 Lexus 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.