Hunt Tallies Two Points, But Penguins PrevailApr 13, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (32-35-5-2) were outshot heavily but hung tough in a 3-2 defeat to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (44-22-6-2) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center.
The Penguins and Thunderbirds began the game as one hockey family in support of the Humboldt Broncos' tragic accident from a week ago, but soon after the game began, the fierce rivalry resumed for its first meeting since Feb. 7.
When the game began, the two teams quickly resumed their Atlantic Division feud through a spirited first period. The Penguins got the huge edge in shots, 19-7 through the end of the first, but Harri Sateri kept the Thunderbirds in it, stopping 18 of 19.
The one shot he failed to deny came from Daniel Sprong, who took a backhand feed from behind the net by Garrett Wilson to elevate it over Sateri’s glove at 15:50 of the first to make it 1-0 Penguins.
Sateri would asked to be big again in the second, as 18 more Penguins shots came his way. Again, Sateri stopped all but one of them. A Teddy Blueger wrist shot off a rush at 4:00 of the middle period got through the Thunderbirds goaltender to put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton ahead, 2-0.
The Penguins would not do themselves any favors, though, taking four minor penalties in the middle period and falling behind by two men on two separate occasions. The Thunderbirds first struck on a 5-on-4 with Dryden Hunt scoring his 21st of the season off a rush at 13:40. Owen Tippett set it up down the right-wing side by sliding a pass inot the middle to Joel Lowry, who in turn fed Hunt to finish the play.
Sateri had to be aggressive as the period rolled along, diving out of his crease on a couple of occasions to prevent breakaway bids for Christian Thomas and Wilson. The Thunderbirds goaltender had already stopped 35 shots through two periods of action.
The Thunderbirds let a golden opportunity slip away late in the second, as they failed to score on two separate two-man advantages.
As the game entered the third, the Thunderbirds got the equalizer just 2:57 into the frame. Hunt picked up the puck at the top of the right circle and pivoted toward the high slot before flinging a wrist shot toward the net. With Tristan Jarry fighting to get an eye on it, Curtis Valk stepped in front and deflected the shot home to tie the score, 2-2.
Hunt (seven games) and Valk (five games) each extended point streaks on the night, with Hunt picking up a goal and an assist.
The tie score remained into the middle portion of the third, but the Penguins came up with a fifth successful penalty kill at 11:31, and moments after the penalty ended, Zach Trotman moved up into the play and one-timed a pass from Jean-Sebastien Dea through Sateri from the right point.
That tie-breaking goal would hold up for the Penguins, who completed a four-game sweep of the Thunderbirds in the season series.
The T-Birds face the Bruins on Saturday to close their home ice schedule for the 2017-18 season. Fans coming to the game that night can stop by Court Square across from the MassMutual Center for pregame Block Party presented by Community Bank. The outdoor party will feature a live music performance by Johnny Sixgun in addition to refreshments. Then inside, the first 2,500 fans will receive a special edition Boomer bobblehead compliments of Stop & Shop.
The season may be approaching its conclusion, but 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.