Phantoms Survive T-Birds Barrage, 5-4Mar 3, 2017
Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (22-25-8-2) unleashed a non-stop assault on the opponents' net, but could not prevail in a narrow 5-4 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (35-17-3-0) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center before a crowd of 5,411.
Although the Thunderbirds had to wait a couple extra minutes for the puck to drop on Bruce Landon Legacy Night, it only seemed to add an extra energy to the start for the home side.
Playing in his very first game and even his very first shift as a Thunderbird, defenseman Reece Scarlettquickly endeared himself to the MassMutual Center crowd, wristing a long shot past Anthony Stolarz just 1:32 into the opening period. Scarlett’s fifth of the season and first in Springfield made it a 1-0 game.
The dangerous Phantom power play could not strike following a Springfield penalty, but moments after the game went back to even strength, the visitors tied the score as Danick Martel niftily deflected a Will O’Neill shot behind newcomer Adam Wilcox to deadlock the game at 12:22.
Martel would not be finished, though, as he rifled home his second goal of the period at 18:53 with a perfectly placed wrist shot over the stick side of the newly-acquired Springfield goalie to give Lehigh Valley a 2-1 first intermission edge. The first period was an active shooting gallery, with the Phantoms launching 15 shots on net and the Thunderbirds testing Stolarz with 12 offerings.
The second period opened with an old school skirmish that saw the two teams accrue 26 minutes of penalties in one altercation. By the time the dust settled, the Thunderbirds would be shorthanded but undaunted. Just 54 seconds into the period, Springfield tied the game on a wonderful never-give-up play from Chase Balisy and Graham Black. After Black fanned on a one-timer attempt in what developed into a 2-on-1, the unrelenting Black stayed after the loose puck, won a battle and then found Balisy in front. Balisy then tucked a backhander past Stolarz to make it a 2-2 tie.
The Thunderbirds held a considerable shot edge through the final 40 minutes on a night that saw Springfield fire a team-record 48 shots on net.
However, it would be Lehigh Valley that jumped to the lead in the final second of the middle period when Chris Conner stashed a backhander through Wilcox’s legs to give the Phantoms their first power play goal of the night and a 3-2 lead.
In the third, a pair of former Springfield Falcons added to the Phantoms lead as both Greg Carey and Colin McDonald scored off of plays from the end boards to make it a 5-2 game just 3:28 into the final period. After allowing goals on each of the Phantoms’ first two shots, Wilcox was relieved by Sam Brittain. Brittain would only need to make two saves the rest of the way, and the Thunderbirds roared back.
First, Paul Thompson stationed himself in front and swatted a bouncing puck through Stolarz’s legs at 6:05. 68 seconds later, Jayce Hawryluk received a perfect blind centering pass from Jared McCann and roofed it over Stolarz at 7:13 to quickly reverse a 5-2 deficit into a narrow 5-4 score.
On this night, though, the Springfield efforts would come up just one goal short, as Stolarz finished with 44 stops. The Thunderbirds’ home winning streak ended at four straight wins.
Springfield takes to the road on an off day Saturday before facing off with the Hershey Bears on Sunday at the Giant Center for a 5:00 p.m. ET puck drop.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey and brand new Collectors Mug. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.