LATE CHANCES COME UP JUST SHORT IN PROVIDENCEMar 3, 2019
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (24-24-6-5) could not complete a three-game weekend sleep, falling to the Providence Bruins (29-21-7-2) by a final score of 5-2 on Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
For a third straight start, Chris Driedger was dialed in from the opening puck drop, fending off a strong early push to make seven stops in the opening six minutes of play against a motivated Providence attack.
The Thunderbirds had the game’s first chance to open the scoring on a power play, but could not take advantage of Trent Frederic’s slashing minor. Providence, meanwhile, saw their power play struggles continue with a 20th straight failure on the man advantage following a Springfield penalty.
While the man advantage did not generate a tally, the Bruins kept the pedal down in the offensive zone after the expiration of the power play, and at 15:09, Paul Carey snapped home a one-time drop from Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson to make it a 1-0 Providence lead.
That lead would be fleeting, though, as Tanner Pond took a roughing minor less than 30 seconds later, and with their second power play chance, the Thunderbirds made no mistakes. After Anthony Greco maneuvered the puck behind the Providence the net and forced a misplay by Wiley Sherman, Paul Thompson pounced on the loose puck and slipped it in front to Jean-Sebastien Dea, who instantaneously pushed it through Zane McIntyre to tie the score just 1:15 after the Carey opening salvo.
McIntyre made sure Springfield would not jump to a lead early in the second period, stopping Joel Lowry on a clean breakaway and also fending off two more Springifeld man advantages in the middle period. The Bruins, meanwhile, struck back twice to get some breathing room. At 5:05, Urho Vaakanainen collected his second point and first AHL goal on a centering feed from Gemel Smith to put Providence ahead 2-1.
Less than five minutes later, Carey’s hot weekend continued when he swooped in off a clean faceoff win by Jordan Szwarz and picked the top corner on Driedger to make it 3-1 at 10:01.
Springfield’s final power play of the period presented a great chance to cut the lead in half, with a rebound sitting right in front of McIntyre’s crease, but the Bruin goaltender dove out to lay across the paint to stonewall Vincent Praplan’s bid for a first goal as a Thunderbird. McIntyre had accumulated 19 saves through two periods to carry his team’s 3-1 lead into the third.
The Bruins were far from disciplined on this particular day, taking a trio of third period minor penalties to give the T-Birds life. Greco took advantage of one such infraction at the 9:15 mark of the final period, as he camped out in the right circle and swept home a rebound for his 20th goal of the season to cut the Bruins lead to 3-2.
Twice in the game’s final six minutes, Springfield had power play chances to force overtime, but McIntyre and the Bruins defense was able to grind out the final minutes, and Vaakanainen and Connor Clifton both deposited goals into empty nets to bring the final score up to a three-goal margin of victory.
With the win, the Bruins now sit eight points ahead of Springfield in the Atlantic division standings. The Thunderbirds next take to the road on Friday night in Binghamton for a tangle with the Devils before returning home for Pink in the Rink Night presented by Baystate Health to benefit Rays of Hope on Saturday, March 9 against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Both games will drop the puck at 7:05 p.m.
Springfield Thunderbirds 2019-2020 ticket memberships are on sale now and include the best benefits of being a Thunderbirds ticket holder. To learn more about memberships and single game tickets, visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com or call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).