Six-Goal Surge Propels T-Birds Past BearsJan 11, 2019
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-12-5-3) rattled off five straight goals en route to a 6-2 win over the Hershey Bears (15-20-0-2) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center before a crowd of over 5,132.
Springfield once again would have to play from behind. After Ryan Horvat was called for tripping at the 3:19 mark, the Bears got on the board first 11 seconds later at the 3:30 mark when former Thunderbird Mike Sgarbossa tapped the puck home from the left circle on a cross-ice feed by Riley Barber.
At the 9:15 mark, the T-Birds tied it up when Riley Stillman jumped up to a loose puck in front of the crease and wristed it past Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek to tie things, 1-1. Paul Thompson and Harry Zolnierczyk got the helpers on Stillman’s second goal in three games as a forward.
Two minutes later, at the 11:23 mark, Anthony Greco jumped onto the ice off a change and took a drop pass from Bobby Farnham in the left circle. The T-Birds’ newest All-Star turned and wristed a long-range bid through traffic and past Vanecek, giving the T-Birds a 2-1 lead. Chris Wideman , playing in his first game as a Thunderbird and his first AHL game in almost four calendar years, picked up his first point in Springfield with the secondary assist.
At the 17:23 mark, the T-Birds kept the offensive onslaught going when Matt Marcinew one-timed home his second AHL goal from the right circle, giving the T-Birds a 3-1 lead on the power play, with Wideman and Zolnierczyk picking up the assists.
After Shane Gersich was called for slashing at the 4:31 mark in the second period, the Thunderbirds power play continued the momentum when Sebastian Repo took a pass from Marcinew at the redline, deked around a Hershey defenseman and snapped a quick wrister past Vanecek from the right circle, making it 4-1 in favor of the T-Birds at 4:49 of the period.
The goal was the last shot Vanecek would face as he was swiftly replaced by Ilya Samsonov after allowing four goals on 18 shots through 24:49 of action.
With less than 6:30 to play in the period and with the Thunderbirds operating on another power play, Riley Barber moved into the Springfield zone on a clean breakaway, but Sam Montembeault stood tall and stopped two point-blank snap shot attempts to keep the score 4-1.
Nearly 10 minutes later at the 14:13 mark, the Thunderbirds power play struck for a third straight time when Matt Mangene took a pass from Ludwig Bystrom and wristed it over Samsonov’s shoulder to give Springfield a 5-1 lead. Dryden Hunt picked up the secondary helper.
At the 2:28 mark of the third, Hershey stopped the five-goal run as Juuso Ikonen picked up a rebound off a shot by Garrett Pilon and chipped it over Montembeault’s shoulder, cutting Springfield’s lead to 5-2.
That’s as close as the Bears would get, as Springfield tapped home a fourth power play goal at 16:10. Zolnierczyk put the final nail on the Hershey coffin when he picked up a puck off the endboards following an initial shot by Wideman and slipped it past Samsonov. Jacob MacDonald picked up the other assist on the play.
Montembeault’s superb performance broke a six-game losing slide for the T-Birds All-Star, as he finished with 29 saves on 31 shots.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds 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