Second Period Surge Downs T-BirdsNov 9, 2018
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (7-2-0-2) took a lead into the first intermission, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (7-3-1-1) pulled away with a five-goal second period before skating out with an 8-2 win on Friday night at the PPL Center.
With just over two minutes to play in the first period, the Thunderbirds struck first when Paul Thompson tucked a centering feed by Harry Zolnierzyk home on a bad angle to complete a wrap-around try, as it eluded Lehigh Valley goaltender Carter Hart for his seventh goal of the season. Zolnierczyk picked up the assist on the goal, his ninth helper of the campaign.
Michael Hutchinson was splendid in his first period of AHL action since Oct. 6, turning aside each of the 13 shots he faced in the opening period, including a breakaway denial on Carson Twarynski to preserve the scoreless game prior to Thompson’s opening goal.
The Thunderbirds’ lead would not last long, though, as 2:11 into the second period, Lehigh Valley got on the board on a goal by Greg Carey who beat Hutchinson on his glove side on a power play strike. Chris Conner and German Rubtstov picked up the helpers on the game tying goal.
Three minutes later as his time in the penalty box expired, Taylor Leier picked up an outlet pass Tyrell Goulbourne to create a breakaway and scored, giving the Phantoms a 2-1 lead.
Almost two minutes later, Vecchione scored on the breakaway himself and beat Hutchinson blocker side, making it 3-1 in favor of Lehigh Valley with Conner picking up his second assist on the play.
Later, after Leier was called for boarding, Cole Bardreau scored his third goal of the season for Lehigh Valley’s third consecutive goal on the breakaway and fourth without an answer from Springfield.
The T-Birds got one back when Dryden Hunt scored on a one-time feed by Jayce Hawryluk, beating Hart on his glove side at 13:03. Ian McCoshen picked up a secondary assist on the play.
Lehigh Valley got a fifth tally three minutes later after digging around Hutchinson’s crease off a T.J. Brennan shot. The puck then deflected off the chest of Rubtstov before crossing the goal line. Brennan and David Kase both were credited with assists on the tally.
At the beginning of the third period, Springfield replaced Hutchinson with Sam Montembeault. Hutchinson finished with 18 saves on the game.
At 5:43, Lehigh Valley scored its sixth of the game off the stick of Carey who went top shelf on Montembeault, beating the goaltender on the power play and giving the Phantoms a 6-2 lead.
In a scary moment, Michael Downing went to a knee to defend a puck in his defensive zone and inadvertently collided with Conner. Downing laid on the ice minutes and was helped off the ice on a stretcher. The Thunderbirds defenseman did give a thumbs-up and wave to the crowd as he left the ice, drawing an ovation from the 6,615 inside the PPL Center.
Adding to their lead, Lehigh Valley scored twice more to close out the scoring. Their seventh goal came at 9:49 from Leier before Conner got his own breakaway tally at 14:29.
Springfield will have little time to dwell on the defeat as they travel to Hershey to take on the Bears for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop on Saturday at the Giant Center.
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.