Offense Reawakens to Top BridgeportJan 26, 2018
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (20-24-1-1) got their offense back in gear with a 5-3 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-16-4-2) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center.
After the two clubs combined for just 44 shots on Wednesday night, offense would come in waves in the opening period on Friday, with Evan Cowley stopping 14 first period offerings and Kristers Gudlevskis denying nine for the Sound Tigers.
Bridgeport would have the benefit of the game's first two power plays, but the Thunderbirds would be the only team to strike. Anthony Greco carried in with a step over the right wing and snapped a wrist shot of the glove of Gudlevskis. The rebound skipped toward the right wing corner, where Greco raced to it and threw it back toward the front of the goal. He successfully got it to nick Gudlevskis before slowly crossing the goal line to hand Springfield a 1-0 lead at 17:08.
The goal was Greco's third shorthanded tally of the season, matching his total of a season ago, while also duplicating his season-high of 16 goals, which he also set in the 2016-17 season.
Bridgeport gave a firm response early in the second to bring the game back to a deadlock as Kellen Jones took a feed from twin brother Connor to beat Cowley on a right-wing wrister just 1:12 into the second to tie the score, 1-1.
Springfield's power play may have endured more struggles in the second against the strong Bridgeport power play, but even strength tilted heavily to the Thunderbirds' side. Things kicked Springfield's direction when Thomas Schemitsch intercepted a rink-wide feed in center and skated around a fallen Bridgeport defender. With a 2-on-1 available, Schemitsch opted for the attempt at goal and was rewarded just so by beating Gudlevskis through the legs at 6:41 to make it 2-1 in the second period.
The goal column stayed quiet through a physical tussle until the final three minutes when Chase Balisyand Greg Chase worked a perfect give-and-go in the offensive zone, culminating in Chase's first as a Thunderbird at 17:09. Ian McCoshen picked up a secondary assist in his first game with Springfield following 29 contests with the Florida Panthers.
Mikkel Aagaard would add to the lead just 3:00 into the third off a slick setup by Chase from the left wing. His fourth of the season made it 4-1.
Bridgeport would not go away quietly, though. Ryan Bourque scored twice, once at 5:31 on a scramble near the crease to make it 4-2, and then again at 11:03 to make it 4-3 on a big rebound kicked out from Cowley's crease.
With Bridgeport edging closer to a tying goal, it would take a final strike for Springfield to come away victorious. At 17:31 of the third, Greco stormed to the front of the net and picked up a rebound from a Balisy shot to fire home his career-high 17th to make it 5-3 to seal the deal.
Cowley picked up his third win by virtue of his 33 stops, while Gudlevskis turned away 27. Both teams' power plays went unsuccessful, with each clubs getting a shorthanded goal in the process.
Springfield looks to make it a perfect weekend heading into the All-Star Classic when they play host to the Providence Bruins at 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.