Late Rally Spills T-Birds in AllentownNov 5, 2016
Allentown, PA– For the second straight night, the Springfield Thunderbirds (5-3-1-0) could not hold a third-period lead, as a four-goal third propelled the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (5-3-1-0) to a 6-4 win on Saturday night at the PPL Center.
The Thunderbirds were guilty of not shooting the puck in an odd-man rush in overtime an evening ago, and the first period seemed to indicate a message of shots on net, and Springfield wasted no time in turning an incredible 21 shots on the net of Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz in the first 20 minutes.
While the Thunderbirds did not score on their lone power play of the first period after a Robert Hagg minor penalty at 11:02, Springfield used that as a springboard to a second half fury in the opening frame. Stolarz was strong in kicking out big blasts from Sena Acolatse and Logan Shaw en route to a successful kill.
The Thunderbirds fired 13 of the period's final 14 shots, ending the first period with 21 attempts on net, but despite their puck possession prowess, it looked like Stolarz, who entered having won each of his last two starts, would steal the period.
However, the Thunderbirds refused to let up, and with just 2:13 to play in the period, Mike Downing picked up the puck at the left puck and threw it at the net, where Shaw deflected a chest-high shot down and through the legs of Stolarz for his third goal of the season.
At the other end, after fielding eight pucks in the first half of the period, Reto Berra had a quieter finish to his opening stanza, needing to make just one stop after the halfway mark of the frame.
Things were far from quiet in every phase of the game in period two. The zaniness began when the Thunderbirds took two penalties separated by less than 30 seconds to hand the top-10 ranked Phantoms power play a two-man advantage.
The Phantoms could not dent Berra in the opening moments of the power play, but a bigger problem was set to present itself to Lehigh Valley. After Juho Lammikko picked up the puck on the right wing side, the young Finnish center decided to lay the puck softly down the ice rather than blast the clearing attempt. In doing so, he allowed defenseman Jakub Kindl a chance to catch up to the biscuit. In all alone on a two-man down situation, Kindl deked to the backhand and waited agonizingly long before shuffling the puck past a sprawling Stolarz at 4:26 to put Springfield up 2-0.
Despite the potentially devastating change in momentum, the Phantoms were not deterred, and after Shaw was sent off for a face-off violation, Greg Carey, a former Springfield Falcon, rifled a one-timer past Berra just 17 seconds after Kindl's goal to cut the lead to 2-1.
Lehigh Valley then broke even as MacKenzie Weegar turned the puck over inches from his own crease, as Danick Martel intercepted and scored in one punch shot attempt.
With the game even and the second period nearing its conclusion, the Thunderbirds then had their turn to show their resolve, as captain Brent Regner patiently skated laterally with the puck at the blue line, found a shooting lane, and launched a half-slap shot on goal. Paul Thompson was credited for the goal by providing traffic in front of Stolarz to put Springfield back on top, 3-2, with less than five minutes to play in the period.
The Thunderbirds power play, which showed flashes of scoring in the first period, then connected just two minutes after Thompson's goal, as Rihards Bukarts threw a perfect saucer pass from the left corner out to Tim Bozon in the right circle, and the recently acquired Frenchman wristed home his first as Thunderbird to make it 4-2 with 2:33 to play in the period.
After a quiet beginning of the third, the Thunderbirds' penalty mishaps caught up to them. First, Carey rifled home a one time rocket at 10:53. On a power play less than four minutes later, Taylor Leier tipped a point shot past Berra to tie the score, and just 32 seconds after the tying goal, Collin McDonald spun a rebound in the slot through Berra's legs to provide the game-winner.
Chris Conner hit an empty net in the final minute to round out the scoring. Stolarz finished with 35 saves for his third straight win for Lehigh Valley, while Berra dropped his first road start of the year.
Following a quick turnaround and travel, Springfield returns to the MassMutual center on Sunday afternoon for a 5:05 p.m. puck drop against the Binghamton Senators. The afternoon marks the first Friendly's Sundae Funday of the year. Packages for the day begin at $44 and feature four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, four small popcorns, and four Friendly's Ice Cream Sundae coupons.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625).