Lammikko Paces T-Birds Past Sound TigersDec 15, 2017
Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (11-18-1-0) outlasted the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (12-11-1-1) in a back-and-forth offensive shootout on Friday night at the MassMutual Center, escaping with a 5-4 win.
The two teams were tame in the first period of play, on the heels of an 82-minute penalty barrage last Saturday. The penalty killing units both got a steady workout in the first period, with Bridgeport killing three Springfield power plays and the Thunderbirds denying two Sound Tiger chances.
Both teams' penalty kills also got into the offensive act. Parker Wotherspoon registered his first goal of the season to put Bridgeport in front at 13:57, as he accepted a drop pass from Shane Prince before beating Sam Montembeault for the Sound Tigers' first shorthanded tally of the season.
Down 1-0 but unruffled, the Thunderbirds answered back not even four minutes later, as Ryan Horvat, making his return to action for the first time since Nov. 15, spun a pass toward the net. A carom left the disc on Anthony Greco's tape, and from there, he snapped a pass to the blue paint. With Bridgeport goaltender Christopher Gibson down, Blaine Byron saw it skip off Gibson, off his own chest, and into the goal. It was Byron's sixth of the season to tie the score at 17:49.
Sheer zaniness took over in a six-goal second period. It began with Bridgeport scoring two goals in the span of just 32 seconds to vault to a 3-2 lead, as Casey Bailey and Scott Eansor tallied at even strength.
That 3-2 lead for the Sound Tigers would not last for long, though, as Horvat picked up his second point of the night by elevating a beautiful saucer pass from Lammikko over Gibson at 12:39.
Just nine seconds later, off an offensive zone draw, it was Greco's turn to light the lamp with his 10th of the season, a quick wrist shot through Gibson on the stick side at 12:48.
The Thunderbirds were not done, though. From neutral ice, Curtis Valk crashed the net and took a saucer pass from Jayce Hawryluk. With Gibson overcommited on the near post, Valk slickly moved to his backhand to slide it through the Bridgeport goalie at 14:17.
The Valk goal brought the end of the night for Gibson, who exited after allowing five goals on 19 shots. Kristers Gudlevskis appeared in relief and helped the Sound Tigers kill off a sixth consecutive Springfield power play. Both sides were somehow unsuccessful on 10 combined power plays through 40 minutes.
Wotherspoon clawed Bridgeport one step closer by one-timing home his second of the game at 17:29 to make it a 5-4 match heading into the final period.
Montembeault then put his team into some hot water by turning a puck over and then committing a minor penalty by playing the puck in the illegal play area to his left. With Springfield shorthanded for a second time, the man-down unit showed no ill effects, as Mike Downing sprung Juho Lammikko on a shorthanded breakaway. The second-year Finn then backhanded a beautiful shot over Gibson for his second shorthanded goal in two games to hand Springfield a 2-1 lead with just 13 seconds left in the first.
After the wild first 40 minutes subsided, Montembeault came out in the third period with a new focus and brought the game home with 12 strong saves to preserve the 5-4 win. The rookie finished the night with 29 stops for his fifth win of the season.
The Thunderbirds will continue their five-game homestand on Saturday for yet another rematch, this time with the Hartford Wolf Pack at 7:05 p.m. at the MassMutual Center. Springfield then hosts Bridgeport again on Dec. 22 before welcoming the Providence Bruins on Dec. 23, with each game starting at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages start at just $12 per game, and Thunderbirds Full Season Ticket Members receive the most benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug and a commemorative jersey. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.