T-Birds Attempt to Solve Bruins, Win 6th StraightFeb 26, 2017
Providence, RI- The Springfield Thunderbirds (22-23-7-2), winners of five consecutive games, will once again look to extend its franchise record win streak as they visit the Providence Bruins (32-14-5-4) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday for a 3:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
Both the Bruins and Thunderbirds have been hot lately, with Providence having won three in a row themselves, including back-to-back wins over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday and Saturday.
Springfield has had trouble with the Bruins lately, dropping each of the last four games against their division foes. The Bruins are 6-1-1-0 against the Thunderbirds in the eight matchups this season. The Thunderbirds have only managed three goals in the last four games against Providence.
However, the Thunderbirds will enter Providence on Sunday playing their best hockey of the season, having allowed just eight goals over the course of their five game win streak.
On Saturday against the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Thunderbirds took advantage of the game’s first power play when Chase Balisy dug out a loose puck on a rebound and roofed it behind Brandon Halverson at 14:28 to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead.
In a turning point moment late in the first, Chris Summers drove in on Mike McKenna down the left wing. McKenna made the initial stop sliding to his left, but as the puck skidded close to the goal line, a pair of Springfield players dove on top of the puck. While it prevented a goal, it did award the Wolf Pack a penalty shot.
With a chance to tie the game with 22 seconds left in the period, Wolf Pack leading goal scorer Nicklas Jensen attempted the Peter Forsberg-inspired move, deking to the backhand with one hand on the stick. However, McKenna showed just enough of a stretch to get the toe on it and make the save, keeping Springfield ahead 1-0 after the first period.
The tight checking carried over into period two, with the Wolf Pack getting the better of the possession time, but the Hartford offense continued to have issues solving McKenna.
The Wolf Pack began the third period continuing to trail by a 1-0 clip, but had a devil of a time trying to get shots directed at McKenna’s crease, generating only one attempt through more than half of the 20-minute final frame. Springfield’s discipline held strong, as they needed only the one successful kill, but Hartford finally warmed to the task in the final minutes.
With less than two minutes to go, and with tired Thunderbirds stuck on the ice after an icing call, the Wolf Pack narrowly missed a pair of deflection goals, and McKenna finished his night with a final bunch of saves in the closing minute. His 32-save shutout was his first as a Thunderbird, his third straight win, his 201st career triumph in the AHL, and the first home shutout in Springfield Thunderbirds history.
To help bring the victory home, Dryden Hunt used the laws of physics to clear a puck off the far-side glass in his own zone and all the way down into the empty net for his third goal in two nights.
After the Thunderbirds complete the three-game weekend in Providence, they will quickly step back on the ice in Hartford on Wednesday for a fourth meeting in less than three weeks against the Wolf Pack. Springfield is next on home ice on Friday, March 3 for Bruce Landon Legacy Night at the MassMutual Center. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 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.