Sgarbossa's Power Play Goal Not Enough vs. BridgeportDec 2, 2016
Springfield, MA– The Springfield Thunderbirds (7-8-2-2) could not find payback on Friday night in a testy and animosity-riddled affair against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (14-6-0-0) at the MassMutual Center, falling 3-1.
The first period began with a surprisingly tentative pace for a pair of clubs that had met three previous times this season. Until Bridgeport earned the game’s first power play on a Tim Bozon throwing-the-stick minor at 13:43, the two teams combined for just eight shots on goal, with veteran goalie Reto Berra and rookie backstopper Eamon McAdam turning aside every shot that came their way for Springfield and Bridgeport respectively.
While only needing to make four saves, McAdam came up with a very important denial in the final 20 seconds of the frame, kicking out the left pad to stonewall Jared McCann on an odd-man rush.
The second period brought with it a defining moment of the night. Just moments after Colin Markison had given the Sound Tigers a 1-0 lead at 13:17, the Thunderbirds had control of the puck in center. Jayce Hawryluk, who was playing in his first game in the AHL after missing 18 games with a hand injury, fumbled a puck at his feet. As he was trying to corral the disc, Sound Tigers forward Connor Jones approached Hawryluk from behind and caught him with a check to the head.
Jones was assessed a match penalty for a check to the head, but in the immediate aftermath of the hit,Jared McCann took matters into his own hands, stepping up to challenge Jones to a fight, resulting in 17 minutes worth of penalties to McCann.
In the short term, the Thunderbirds responded admirably, as on the 4-on-3 power play that resulted from the penalties to Jones and McCann, Mike Sgarbossa finished off a lovely passing play from Shane Harper and Paul Thompson to bring Springfield back to a tie score, 1-1. The goal came just 2:17 after Markison put Bridgeport in front.
The 1-1 score carried into the third period, but the Thunderbirds could not find the tiebreaker, and instead the Sound Tigers struck for the win. At 7:50 of the third, a Jon Landry point shot reached Berra, who made a kick save. However, the rebound sat in the slot for Tanner Fritz, who fed Travis St. Denis at the side of the net to give Bridgeport a lead it would not relinquish, 2-1.
Fritz added a goal of his own at 13:15, as he moved up on a 2-on-1 rush and curled the puck on a toe drag before snapping it past Berra on the glove side. The Sound Tigers ended the night outshooting the Thunderbirds 31-22, while McAdam picked up his sixth consecutive win without a defeat this season.
The Thunderbirds hit home ice again on Saturday for the first Teddy Bear Toss in Thunderbirds hockey history, presented by Teddy Bear Pools and Spas. Additionally, tomorrow night's game is Military Appreciation Night, presented by Smith & Wesson.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Season 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).