Hutchinson, Thompson Shine, But Pens PrevailOct 6, 2018
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (0-0-0-1) picked up a point in their first game of the season behind outstanding performances from their captain and goaltender, but could not squeak out a second point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1-0-0-0) on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
In the first period, the fireworks were aplenty, with 46 minutes of penalty minutes combined between the two squads including two fights: one between the Penguins’ Zach Trotman and Thunderbirds captain Paul Thompson and another between Garrett Wilson and Springfield forward Joel Lowry.
Not only were there two fights, but Trotman was sent off for a 10-minute misconduct for his instigation for the fight against Thompson. Before tempers flared, the Thunderbirds gained an early lead on Thompson’s first goal of the season just 36 seconds into the first period. Forward Harry Zolnierczyk picked up a helper on the play by setting up a one-timer in the slot area, which Thompson rifled past Penguins goalie Anthony Peters.
Springfield would only hold the the lead for just over a minute. Ethan Prow fluttered a point shot through the traffic and past Michael Hutchinson to score his first goal of the season at 1:50 of the first.
Seven minutes later, the Penguins scored again off the stick of Zach Aston-Reese when his curl-and-drag shot deflected off the stick of diving Thunderbirds’ defenseman Julian Melchiori and through Hutchinson.
In the second period, there were dramatically less penalty minutes with only four minutes being assessed: both going to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The T-Birds made good on one of those power plays as Thompson scored his second goal of the game to knot the score at 2-2. After Dryden Hunt’s shot hit off the right pad of Anthony Peters and wound up in the air, Thompson swung with his stick and the puck landed in the back of the net, tying the game. Zolnierczyk picked up a secondary assist on the goal for his second point of the night.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third period, but only because of the spectacular efforts of Hutchinson and Peters. The Thunderbirds goalie, making his team debut, finished the night with 45 saves, the second highest single-game total in Thunderbirds history.
In the end, though, it would not be enough for Springfield, as the Penguins and Thunderbirds played to a scoreless overtime period at 3-on-3. Once the game reached the shootout, Peters shined, turning aside Blaine Byron, Ludwig Bystrom, and Patrick Bajkov. Aston-Reese led off the shootout with a five-hole snapper past Hutchinson, which proved to be the only tally of the shootout festivities.
The Thunderbirds have a week to prepare for their first three-game weekend of the campaign, searching for their first victory of the new season. They will visit the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday, Oct. 12 for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. Then the two clubs will return to Springfield for Opening Night, presented by MGM Springfield, on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7:05 p.m. at the MassMutual Center.
The action begins with a pregame Block Party presented by Community Bank at 4 p.m. at MGM Springfield's outdoor plaza, featuring a live music performance by Top Shelf. The Thunderbirds complete the three-game weekend with Kids Opening Day against the Providence Bruins at 3:05 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14. Tickets for all games are available at www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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.