Phantoms' 3rd Period Surge Downs T-BirdsNov 24, 2017
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (7-13-1-0) gave up three third period goals and fell by a final count of 6-3 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (11-6-0-2) at the MassMutual Center on Friday, snapping the team's four-game home winning streak.
The Thunderbirds and Phantoms' power plays were highly efficient in a back-and-forth first period on the scoreboard. Lehigh Valley jumped to the lead first on a Greg Carey redirection at 5:02 of the period from Phil Varone and James de Haas.
But Carey himself would then find himself in the box less than a minute later for slashing. With the Phantoms' goal scorer helpless behind the glass, the Springfield power play, which entered play with a 25.9% success rate at home, once again found the net. Anthony Greco tapped home a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from Curtis Valk and Tim Erixon to tie the game just 48 seconds after the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead.
However, the Phantoms had a quick response in their itinerary as well. After Springfield took a minor penalty, Phil Varone scored his 100th career professional goal to make it a 2-1 lead for Lehigh Valley at 7:20.
One more time, though, the Thunderbirds power play would get them back to even terms. After Phantoms goalie Dustin Tokarski flipped a puck out of play during a penalty kill, the ensuing 5-on-3 for Springfield came away with another game-tying tally. After Alex Grenier set up in front of the net, Denis Malgin found him with a feed from behind the net. Grenier's first attempt was defended by Tokarski, but the rebound slowly careened over the Phantom goaltender before trickling over the line to tie the game again, this time at 2-2.
Springfield would get its first lead of the night early in the second, this time at even strength. Blaine Byron picked up a loose puck on the right wing wall and fired it toward the net. With both Tony Turgeon and Mikkel Aagaard driving the front of the crease, the shot deflected past Tokarski. Aagaard was given credit for his fourth of the year to give Springfield its first lead, 3-2, at 4:18 of the second.
However, Carey would once again torment his former city, as he won a race to a puck off the end boards to elevate a backhander over the shoulder of Sam Montembeault to tie the score again at 12:18.
The third period arrived with a 3-3 tie on the scoreboard and the Thunderbirds got a glorious chance to break the tie on a power play after Mike Vecchione was whistled down for high-sticking at 6:12. However, it would be the Phantoms to break the tie in the ensuing action.
On a shorthanded rush, Corban Knight saucered a pass to rookie defenseman James de Haas. With a one-handed lunge at the puck, de Haas deflected the feed past Montembeault to put the Phantoms on top for good, 4-3, at 6:33.
Mark Alt would follow with a slap shot goal off a faceoff at 10:25 from Knight. Oskar Lindblom sealed it with a power play, empty net goal at 17:01. Springfield was a man down as Turgeon was whistled for a major penalty for interference at 14:55.
Montembeault finished his night with 26 saves, while Tokarski made 21 denials in the win for Lehigh Valley.
Springfield stays on home ice for one final Sunday game at the MassMutual Center against the Hartford Wolf Pack at 3:05 p.m. on Nov. 26. There will be a team poster giveaway for the first 2,500 fans in attendance, and the full Thunderbirds team will be available for a post-game autograph session on the concourse.
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 visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.