Late Charge Not Enough vs. CometsDec 21, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (15-9-2-3) could not recover from a slow start in a 2-1 loss to the Utica Comets (15-13-2-1) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center despite a late goal by Josh Brown and a 27-save performance by goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
In a first period that saw 27 combined shot attempts, the Comets got on the board first late in the frame, at the 18:22 mark, when Darren Archibald scooped up a pass from in front of the net and put the puck between his legs to beat Michael Hutchinson and give the Comets the 1-0 lead. Brendan Gaunce and Zack MacEwen picked up the assists on the play.
The T-Birds played well on both ends of the puck in the first period and wound up with 12 shots on goal at the end of the first period with goaltender Michael Hutchinson making 14 saves in the opening period.
With 35 seconds to play in the first period, however, Dryden Hunt was assessed a double-minor penalty for cross-checking. The T-Birds came into the second period with 3:25 on their penalty kill, but were able to kill the penalty.
The power plays were unsuccessful all night for both teams, but the Comets got the difference-making goal while shorthanded. After Cam Darcy was called for a delay of game at the 5:09 mark, Utica scored their second goal of the game shorthanded off the stick of Gaunce, who moved up in a two-on-one rush and beat Hutchinson from the right circle to make it 2-0.
The T-Birds came into the third period with 1:50 left on a power play after Tanner Kero was assessed a two-minute minor for cross-checking, but the power play stalled and failed to connect.
Halfway through the second period, Springfield had an opening when Utica substituted Thatcher Demko for Comets goaltender Richard Bachman, who had stopped all 27 shots he saw before being injured.
The T-Birds pulled within one when Josh Brown corralled a pass from Thompson at the right point and slapped it past Demko, making the score 2-1. Joel Lowry picked up the secondary helper on the play. It was Brown’s second goal of the season.
Late in the third period, the T-Birds sent Hutchinson to the bench in favor of the extra-attacker and even went on a 6-on-4 power play in the final minute, but despite a 38-shot night, the T-Birds could not get a tying marker past Demko.
Utica has now won each of the first two games in the season series; the two clubs won’t meet again until the month of February.
On Saturday, in their second game in as many nights, the T-Birds take on the Providence Bruins in the first installment of the Saturday Night Trivia Series presented by Bobby’s Roast Beef. Saturday’s matchup is the first matchup between the two Atlantic Division foes since Oct. 27 in which Springfield defeated Providence 4-2.
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.