Montembeault Magnificent in Shutout Win over CharlotteNov 17, 2017
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (6-11-1-0) received a marvelous performance from Sam Montembeault in a 4-0 triumph over the Charlotte Checkers (10-6-0-0) at the MassMutual Center before a sellout crowd of 6,793.
After an early success on the PK for the Thunderbirds, one of their exciting rookies made a spectacular opening statement in his return to the lineup. Henrik Haapala has missed eight games in the early season, but he made this return from a three-game absence meaningful, stationing himself to the right of goaltender Jeremy Smith. After a Matt MacKenzie point shot ticked off of Haapala in front, the Finn spun to his forehand and beat Smith with a turnaround wrister to make it 1-0 at 5:59, from MacKenzie and Alex Grenier.
The Thunderbirds would only get six shots on the net in the first period, while Charlotte would get 10 pucks on the net of Sam Montembeault. However, the rookie goalie was in sharp form in the opening 20 minutes, showing confidence with rebound control and puck handling to quiet a Charlotte attack that entered play second in the AHL in goals per game (3.93).
Montembeault and the Springfield penalty killers would be tested again in a quiet second period that saw only three Thunderbirds shots on net. Charlotte drew back-to-back power play chances late in the period, but the Springfield killers came through with numerous shot blocks, and Montembeault successfully held the fort to maintain the 1-0 edge into the third, making 18 saves through 40 minutes.
With the third period underway in a tight game, the Thunderbirds defense continued to hang on through six Charlotte power plays. Montembeault and the penalty killers kept Charlotte at a distance to maintain the lead. Finally, at 11:06, Springfield was able to give its goaltender some breathing room as Francois Beauchemin potted his first career AHL goal to make it 2-0.
With the puck loose behind the net, Beauchemin set up in the left circle, settled the bouncing biscuit, and beat Smith to give Springfield some breathing room.
Less than two minutes later, Thomas Schemitsch picked up his second goal in two games by charging the net, deflecting a Grenier pass on goal. Smith made the first save, but Schemitsch cleaned up the rebound on a backhand to make it 3-0 at 12:43.
Mikkel Aagaard would put the icing on the cake with an empty netter at 17:18, with Grenier picking up a third assist on the final tally.
Montembeault made 14 saves in the third period alone en route to his first professional shutout. The Thunderbirds will look to extend their winning streak to five games when they visit the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for a 3:00 p.m. start on Sunday.
Tonight marks the conclusion of the Thunderbirds' first of two separate five-game homestands in the 2017-18 season. Springfield next takes to the road for a 3:00 p.m. matinee in Bridgeport on Sunday against the Sound Tigers before embarking on a trek to Pennsylvania to battle the Hershey Bears on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Giant Center.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages start at just $12 per game, and Thunderbirds Full Season Ticket Members receive the most benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug and a commemorative jersey. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visitwww.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.