Power Play Propels T-Birds Late for 3rd Straight WinNov 15, 2017
Springfield, MA - The Springfield Thunderbirds (5-11-1-0) again used their scintillating power play to come up with a clutch goal late in a 5-3 win over the Charlotte Checkers (10-5-0-0) on Wednesday in the first school day game in Thunderbirds history.
Despite the unusual morning puck drop time, the Thunderbirds and Checkers showed no signs of rust or sleepiness in a fast-paced first period that saw a combined 21 shots on the nets of Harri Sateri and Alex Nedeljkovic.
Springfield had the early edge in territorial possession, starting with eight of the game's first ten shots. They also picked up the only two power plays of the opening period. After failing on the first attempt, the red-hot unit got another crack and beat Nedeljkovic at 18:23. Blaine Byron parked himself in the slot with stick-on-ice, and Alex Grenier found him with a perfect pass, with Byron deflecting home his third power play goal of the year and second in two games.
With the 1-0 lead, the Thunderbirds could not escape a dangerous Checkers attack, though. Just 37 seconds later, the Checkers worked the puck to former Springfield Falcon Philip Samuelsson at the left point. Samuelsson fired a wrister through traffic that deflected on its way to Sateri. The Springfield goalie made the first save, but left a rebound right in front of the crease, and Janne Kuokkanen was there to backhand the loose puck behind Sateri to tie the game with exactly 1:00 to go in the first.
Charlotte carried the jolt of their tying goal into a tie-breaking goal early in the second, as Valentin Zykov beat Sateri with a wrister at 3:52 of the second on a Checkers power play. The Checkers' 2-1 lead would not last even three minutes, though.
After Tony Turgeon flattened his man at the offensive blue line, he left the puck for Matt Buckles, who fired a wrist shot wide of Nedeljkovic. Defenseman Thomas Schemitsch had wandered to the side of the goal, and from there he tucked the rebound home at the near post to tie the game, 2-2, at 6:03 of the second.
However, this see-saw battle would once again continue, as the Checkers took advantage of a Springfield misplay on a power play, leading to a Warren Foegele breakaway strike at 11:46. Once, again, a Checkers lead would not stand the test of time, as Bobby Farnham whistled home a wrist shot from the right circle at 15:51 to tie the game, 3-3, heading into the final frame.
A 3-3 deadlock stayed in place until a pair of costly Charlotte errors in the final three minutes. First, the Checkers were caught with too many men on the ice with just 2:57 to go. Less than a minute later, Samuelsson swatted a loose puck out of play from his own zone, putting his team down two men with precious little time on the clock.
With the ensuing 5-on-3, after breaking one stick and retrieving a new one, Tim Erixon arrived back at the right point to unleash a game-winning howitzer on a one-timer with just 1:24 to go. Alex Grenier sealed the deal with an empty netter in the final seconds to go along with two assists of his own in the victory.
Sateri recovered after giving up two in the second period to stop all 10 shots he saw in the final period en route to his second consecutive win.
The Thunderbirds and Checkers will rematch for a standard 7:05 p.m. Friday matchup at the MassMutual Center. From there, the Thunderbirds hit the road to face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday for a 3:00 p.m. puck drop.
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.