POWER PLAY PROPELS T-BIRDS TO BLOWOUT WINOct 12, 2018
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (1-0-0-1) came into Friday’s in search of their first win, and thanks to five power play goals and 35 saves for Sam Montembeault, they did just that, defeating the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a 7-0 final at the PPL Center.
Seven minutes into the first period, the Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by forward Patrick Bajkov, who scored his first professional goal from the right faceoff circle that went over the glove of Phantoms goaltender Carter Hart, a former teammate of Bajkov’s in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips. Defenseman Matt Mangene and forward Paul Thompson picked up the assists on the play..
The assist was Mangene’s first with Springfield, while Thompson picked up his second helper and third point on the year. Thompson fired a gut-wrenching blow to the Phantoms with just five seconds left in the frame when he tallied his fourth point and second goal on a bad-angle shot from the right wing side that squeaked through Hart.
Sam Montembeault stopped 13 shots in the first period for the Thunderbirds, which included an early one-time test from former Springfield Falcon Greg Carey with the score still 0-0.
In the second period, Springfield’s power play took firm control of the game and would not be denied.
The first goal came on the power play five minutes into the period off the stick of forward Anthony Greco, his first of the season. Forwards Henrik Borgstrom and Blaine Byron both picked up the aid on the play. The assist was Borgstrom’s first at the AHL level.
Borgstrom picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone between the two faceoff circles, spun around 180 degrees and fed it to Greco who was situated to the left of Hart and redirected the puck over the rookie goaltender’s glove, to give Springfield a 3-0 lead.
The second goal came off the stick of defenseman Ludwig Bystrom seven minutes into the period, also on the power play, with Borgstrom and Byron with the assists on the play and putting the Thunderbirds in front 4-0. Bystrom took a hard slapshot from just in front of the blue line and the shot beat Hart five-hole.
Hart was quickly replaced with backup goaltender Anthony Stolarz, but 13 minutes into the period Bystrom scored his second goal, with Greco picking up his second point in the game and on the season with the helper, making it 5-0. Bystrom’s goal came from the left faceoff dot, to the right of Stolarz. Not only did it make it 5-0, but it also set a record for most power play goals in a game for the T-Birds.
Just over two and a half minutes later, Borgstrom scored his first goal at the AHL level, with the assist coming from forward Joel Lowry on a mini 2-on-1, giving the T-Birds a 6-0 lead.
In the third period, the Thunderbirds scored just one goal to complete their extravagant offensive outburst, as defenseman Julian Melchiori ripped a power play slap shot over Stolarz for his first goal with the Thunderbirds. Lowry and fellow forward Jake Horton picked up the assist.
Horton won a faceoff in the offensive zone, Lowry fed it to Melchiori at the blue line and the defenseman scored on a slapshot, making it 7-0.
The Thunderbirds finished with six players with two or more points. They were a franchise-best 5-for-6 on the power play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Montembeault finished with a 35 save shutout and earned first star honors.
Up next, Springfield completes a home-and-home series with the Phantoms with its home-opener on Saturday, October 13, presented by MGM Springfield.
The action begins with a pregame Block Party presented by Community Bank at 4 p.m. at MGM Springfield's outdoor plaza, featuring a live music performance by Top Shelf. The Thunderbirds complete the three-game weekend with Kids Opening Day against the Providence Bruins at 3:05 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14. Tickets for all games are available at www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including the lowest prices for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.