Sens Snatch T-Birds' Hearts With Tying, OT GoalsJan 21, 2017
(Photo Courtesy JustSports Photography)
Binghamton, NY - The Springfield Thunderbirds (15-16-6-2) suffered another in a long line of heartbreaking overtime defeats on Saturday, falling 3-2 to the Binghamton Senators (18-19-2-1) at the Floyd L. Maines Memorial Arena.
In a matchup of two teams sitting in the bottom two spots in the Eastern Conference in both goals per game and power play efficiency, the first period unsurprisingly featured sturdier defense.
Mike McKenna had an easy start to his night, making six first period stops while only needing to face one Binghamton power play, which the Thunderbirds successfully killed following a Kyle Rau minor for hooking. At the other end, the Thunderbirds generated a more concentrated offensive pressure, but Matt O’Connor made all 11 saves he was asked to make.
The Senators came out of the gates with more energy to begin the middle period, generating six of the period’s first seven shots.
After Max McCormick created a turnover behind the Thunderbirds net, Kyle Flanagan spun a backhand pass to the front of the net, where Jack Rodewald crept down the slot and snapped a quick one-timer past McKenna at 7:31.
With the Senators holding the momentum, Springfield was forced to kill off a power play for Binghamton moments after the Rodewald goal. The Thunderbirds successfully dodged the bullet, and from there, the Thunderbirds drew themselves a pair of power play chances.
Despite an 0-for-2 showing on the advantage on back-to-back man advantage chances, the Thunderbirds, much like Binghamton, used the pressure to create some offensive burst. It culminated in the game-tying goal from Anthony Greco, who fired a shot off of a Senators defender with Stephen MacAulay screening O'Connor in front. The game went to the third deadlocked, 1-1.
Early in the third, Springfield seemed to be presented the game’s best chance to break the tie with a power play, but instead, it was Binghamton with a glorious chance on a Phil Varone shorthanded breakaway. McKenna, though, came up with the answer on Binghamton’s leading scorer, who had scored two shorthanded breakaway goals the night before in Syracuse.
Though Springfield did not score on the power play, McKenna’s save gave a boost to the offensive forces, and moments after 5-on-5 resumed, Denis Malgin returned the favor from Jayce Hawryluk from Friday night. This time, it was Hawryluk who displayed the patience on a 2-on-1 rush on the right wing before hitting Malgin off the far pipe to put Springfield on top, 2-1. The goal was Malgin’s first in the AHL.
The 2-1 score carried all the way to the final three minutes of the third, to the point where Binghamton summoned O’Connor to the bench. With the extra attacker on, after a minute of failed chances, Jason Akeson finally settled a bouncing puck in the slot and unleashed a wrist shot that beat McKenna to tie the score with 1:18 to go.
Having forced overtime, the Senators had another resurgence to start the overtime, with McKenna once again stoning Varone on a breakaway, this time on a backhand bid as opposed to the forehand chance in the third.
As the teams traded chances back and forth, O’Connor and McKenna refused to blink, but the Thunderbirds ended up making the most crucial error just past the three-minute mark of overtime, getting caught with too many men on the ice.
With time dwindling in the extra session and a shootout looming, Francis Perron sent the home fans back to their cars happy, beating McKenna with a high-rising power play slapper with just 17 seconds separating the two teams from a shootout.
With the loss, Springfield has now gone winless in the last four games, while Binghamton captured its third consecutive triumph. O’Connor made 34 stops in the win, while McKenna made 24 by night’s end for the Thunderbirds.
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.