Rau's Historic Night Snaps Sound Tigers StreakFeb 4, 2017
(Photo Courtesy Jon Tenca/Puck Stopper Photography)
Bridgeport, CT- The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-20-6-2) received a remarkable performance from Kyle Rau, and in turn, knocked off the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (26-16-1-1) by a final score of 5-2 at the Webster Bank Arena on Saturday.
The Sound Tigers began the game confidently in pursuit of their ninth straight win, controlling much of the play in the opening minutes. With the Thunderbirds on their heels, the Sound Tigers turned their early edge into a lead as defenseman Kyle Burroughs scored his first goal of the season at 5:24.
Burroughs picked up the puck at the right point and found an open patch of ice on the right circle before wristing the biscuit over the arm of Reto Berra.
For a second straight night, though, the Thunderbirds had a good response to the game’s opening goal, eventually taking the edge in shots, 10-9 for the period. On a quick passing play at 11:40, Eric Robinsonspotted Kyle Rau to the left of Bridgeport goaltender Stephon Williams. Rau then quickly shifted from the backhand to the forehand to slide the puck under the legs of the goalie to tie the score, 1-1.
Both teams also had chances on the man advantage in the first with no success. With their kill in the first, Springfield made it 21 consecutive man disadvantages without a goal allowed.
As things got chippy in the middle frame, the goals came faster and faster. The Thunderbirds nearly took the lead on a tic-tac-toe passing play, but Graham Black could not settle a bouncing puck in front of an open net.
Not to worry though, the Thunderbirds quickly struck less than a minute after Black’s near-finish. Once again, it was Rau who was the benefactor, as he slammed home his own rebound to give Springfield a 2-1 edge at 8:31 of the second. Sena Acolatse picked up his second assist of the night on Rau’s seventh goal of the campaign.
Bridgeport would not let Springfield off the hook though, and with a sudden 2-on-1 chance, Tanner Fritz beat Berra on the stick side to tie the game at 12:38.
The see-saw continued, though, and the Thunderbirds got their lead back at 15:23, as Robinson got his second primary assist of the night in setting up Juho Lammikko in the slot for a quick snap shot past Williams at 15:23.
The Thunderbirds did not make things easy on themselves heading into the third, as a Lammikko minor penalty gave the Sound Tigers a power play that leaked into the start of the final frame.
Springfield’s penalty kill kept strong and extended their penalty kill streak to 25 in a row. Fending off Bridgeport’s toughest advance in the third, Rau finished off his historic night, garnering the first hat trick in T-Birds history at 12:08 of the final period. After a Ryan Horvat shot was knocked down in front, Rau dug the puck out of Williams’ equipment and beat the goaltender on the backhand for his final tally of the night.
Bridgeport got no closer from there, and when Anthony Greco hit the empty net at 17:20, the Sound Tigers’ eight game win streak streak came to an abrupt end. Berra’s 25 stops at the other end snapped the goaltender’s personal five game losing skid.
The two clubs will reconvene in Bridgeport on Tuesday for another 7:00 p.m. ET puck drop.
The Thunderbirds are back on MassMutual Center ice on Friday, Feb. 10 as Ric Flair makes a visit to Springfield for "Throwback Night" with a piece of Flair. Flair's special appearance, presented by Big Y and Lia Auto Group. Additionally, the evening also marks Big Y Family Night, where Big Y Silver Savings Club Card holders can save $5 on tickets (NOTE: this offer cannot be combined with Ric Flair packages).
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.