MONTEMBEAULT MAGNIFICENT, BUT BRUINS EDGE T-BIRDS IN SHOOTOUTJan 18, 2019
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (18-14-5-4) dueled in a defensive battle on Friday night with the Providence Bruins (19-16-6-0), but unlike Sunday night, the Thunderbirds could not snag the extra point beyond regulation, as Providence prevailed in a shootout, 2-1, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Both goaltenders starred in the first period, with Sam Montembeault and Zane McIntyre both turning away 10 shots apiece. Montembeault came away with the most acrobatic save of the period when the Bruins moved up in a shorthanded 2-on-1. The T-Birds’ All-Star netminder slid to his left as Trent Frederic tried to hit Connor Clifton for a man-down goal, but Montembeault kicked it out with the left pad to keep the game scoreless.
The Thunderbirds got two chances on the power play, but couldn’t convert on either one and went into the break with no score for either side. With just over five minutes to play in the first period, the Bruins went to the power play themselves when Tomas Jurco went to the box for slashing. The T-Birds, however, were able to kill it off for their 10th consecutive successful PK.
At the 8:26 mark in the second period, following a face-off win by the Bruins, Patrick Bajkov went to play the puck in the right corner and was viciously knocked to the ice against the boards by Tanner Pond. Pond was issued a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind.
The T-Birds, however, could only muster one shot and Providence killed the penalty off to maintain the scoreless tie.
After 38 minutes of no scoring, the Bruins got on the board first at the 18:21 mark when Matt Mangene and Montembeault converged on the puck in the trapezoid behind the net. Montembeault attempted to clear the puck, but it redirected off Mangene’s stick to a waiting Karson Kuhlman. The rookie winger wasted no time in punching the puck into the yawning net, giving the P-Bruins a 1-0 lead.
McIntyre remained perfect through two periods, stopping all 18 shots that came his way.
Springfield’s third period attack mustered only one bona fide scoring chance but fortunately for the visitors, that wound up in the back of the net. Captain Paul Thompson took a drop pass from Harry Zolnierczyk and roofed a shot on the stick side of McIntyre to tie the game, 1-1, with 9:54 to go in the third.
Montembeault was poised in between his pipes amid constant pressure through the final minutes of regulation to get the game to the extra period. With less than a minute to go in the overtime, Zolnierczyk fired a wrister that deflected high into the air and toward the crease. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, Trent Frederic arrived back at the net in defense, knocking the goal off the pegs in the process to preserve the tie game.
McIntyre and Montembeault then matched each other shot for shot through 11 shootout attempts and no goals. Frederic, however put the game in the Bruins’ win column, patiently beating Montembeault on a forehander in the bottom of the sixth shootout round to give Providence its first win in its first shootout this season.
The Thunderbirds continue their road weekend in Hartford on Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop inside the XL Center against the Wolf Pack.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds 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.