Sateri Shutout Buoys T-Birds Past CheckersFeb 23, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (24-28-2-1) held onto a slim margin behind a stellar performance from their goaltender, then pulled away late for a 4-0 win over the Charlotte Checkers (30-22-0-3) at the MassMutual Center on Friday night.
After failing to solve Alex Nedeljkovic in the Charlotte goal on Feb. 10, the Thunderbirds made sure they would not be blanked on home ice, as they raced out to the lead with a heads up outlet pass. Ryan Horvat gathered the puck inside his own zone and angled it off the far boards through center ice. With two Charlotte defensemen overcommitted, Juho Lammikko moved in on a 2-on-0 rush and fed Anthony Greco for an easy tap-in goal at 6:09. Greco's goal, his 19th of the season, brought him into a tie with Paul Thompson for the T-Birds single season goal scoring record.
The Checkers made Harri Sateri endure a bit of a sweat in the first period, peppering 11 shots at the Springfield net, but the Thunderbirds netminder fended off each bid. Springfield also killed off one Checkers power play in the first, but Charlotte returned the favor with two penalty kills of its own.
Sateri and the Springfield penalty killers would be sternly tested early in the second when both Horvat and Ludwig Bystrom took simultaneous minor penalties to give Charlotte a 5-on-3 for two minutes' time. The Springfield goaltender held the fort and the penalty killers kept a vaunted Checkers power play quiet.
Springfield left two power plays of their own on the table in the second period, and they would have to settle for their 1-0 lead into the third frame. The Thunderbirds would not be defeated on this night, though, and Greco became the first Thunderbird to hit 20 goals in a single season, cashing in on a 2-on-1 feed from Curtis Valk at 11:02 of the third to make it 2-0.
With Charlotte pressing to beat Sateri, and Nedeljkovic off to the bench with 4:20 to play, Alex Grenier deposited a loose puck into the empty net for his first point in eight games to make it a 3-0 score.
With the game well at hand by now, Valk joined the party with a high-rising wrister that fooled Nedeljkovic at 18:12 to bring the game's final score to 4-0.
Sateri's shutout made him the third different Springfield goaltender to shut out an opponent this season, and he joins Sam Montembeault in shutting out the Checkers on home ice.
The Thunderbirds immediately hop on the bus for a matchup at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night in Utica for their first contest against the Comets in the 2017-18 regular season.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.