McKegg, Berra Bury Binghamton

Dec 16, 2016
Springfield, MA The Springfield Thunderbirds (11-9-3-2) received a marvelous return from one of their newest offensive weapons and hung on thanks to their goaltending stalwart in a 3-1 win over the Binghamton Senators (8-15-2-1) at the MassMutual Center on Friday.
Much unlike the first meeting between the two clubs in Springfield on Nov. 6, the Thunderbirds and Senators pushed the pace early. Reto Berra was forced to be at his alert and athletic best early in the first period, making saves off re-directions, back door passes, and high-pressure situations, capped off with a breakaway save on Mike Blunden when the Thunderbirds were on the power play.

The power play was the story of the first period, with Springfield receiving three opportunities with the man advantage, including a brief two-man advantage. However, despite numerous chances in the offensive zone, the Thunderbirds could manage only six shots in the opening frame on Binghamton goaltender Matt O’Connor. 

At the other end, Springfield killed off the only Binghamton power play following a hooking minor onThomas Schemitsch

The two teams continued their stalemate past the halfway point of regulation. Berra made the highlight reel save of the night on a jumbled play near his crease on a delayed penalty call. With Jason Akeson camping out on the doorstep, Berra laid down across the crease, stacking his pads to stonewall Akeson to keep the score tied. 

The Thunderbirds killed the ensuing penalty and then pressed the issue offensively until a bench breakdown came back to cost the Senators. After the Binghamton bench jumbled a line change and took a too many men penalty, the Thunderbirds finally picked up an elusive power play goal. At 13:32, Jared McCann took a quick area pass from Greg McKegg on the left wing side. Without hesitation, McCann unleashed a top-shelf snipe from the faceoff dot, beating O’Connor for a 1-0 Springfield lead.

With the second stanza ticking away, the Thunderbirds refused to accept just a one-goal lead, forcing the issue offensively with steady pressure in the Binghamton zone. McKegg then took matters into his own hands, accelerating over the left side past the Binghamton defense before stashing a perfect snap shot past O’Connor on the blocker side for his second point of the night with just 13 seconds left in the period. 

The Senators came out in the third with an all-out assault on the Thunderbirds goal, with Berra continuing to be at his acrobatic best. With 4:29 to play in the third, Binghamton finally broke through Berra on their 30th shot of the night, as Kyle Flanagan beat Berra at the side of the goal to cut the lead to 2-1.

Anxious moments followed in the game’s final three minutes, but Berra and the defense thwarted last gasps from Binghamton to secure their third win in the last four games. McKegg put the icing on his three-point, two-goal night by adding an empty-netter with just four seconds to play.
The Thunderbirds continue their fifth 3-in-3 weekend of the season with a road tilt on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET in Wilkes-Barre against the Penguins before a late afternoon matinee in Hershey on Sunday against the Bears at 5:15 p.m. ET. 
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