T-Birds Battle Back Late to Secure Point in ProvidenceMar 6, 2020
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (30-26-3-0) battled through a tight defensive contest to secure a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Providence Bruins (35-18-3-3) on Friday night inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Neither team was afraid to fire pucks at the goalies in the first period, as Providence’s Dan Vladar saw 13 first period shots while Philippe Desrosiers faced 20 Bruins offerings in the opening 20 minutes. Despite the many chances, goals would be scarce in the first, with an unlikely source cashing in for Providence.
After the Springfield defense collapsed in front of their own net, Josiah Didier sneaked into the play off the Bruins bench and, after getting his initial shot blocked, he gathered his own rebound to beat Desrosiers from the bottom of the right circle, making it 1-0 Providence at 8:24 of the game.
The Thunderbirds’ penalty kill did its job to dispatch a Bruins power play in the first, and Jonathan Ang had a game-tying goal on his stick on a shorthanded breakaway, only to see Vladar get the leg pad down to make the save.
A 33-shot first period gave way to a defensively sound middle period that saw just five Providence shots and seven Springfield attempts. Desrosiers took his turn with a shorthanded breakaway as he turned aside Oskar Steen in the closing moments of the period, while Vladar got the benefit of a disallowed goal by Aleksi Heponiemi near the midpoint of the period, as the rookie winger was whistled for knocking an aerial puck into the net with a high stick. Didier’s goal held up as the only one through 40 minutes of game action.
Vladar kept the T-Birds at bay early in the final period, as the Bruins goalie continued his perfect night, including a sprawling leg pad save on Rodrigo Abols. Despite the offensive struggles, the T-Birds kept pushing on and with 4:53 to play, they finally broke through to tie the score. Emil Djuse picked up a loose puck on the left wing side on a chip feed from Daniel Audette. The young blueliner then saw captain Paul Thompson breaking for the front of the net, and Djuse hit Thompson with a slap pass, and Thompson’s redirect clanged the inside of the right post before going in behind Vladar to make it a 1-1 game.
Springfield could not find overtime magic for a second time against the Bruins, though. With a 2-on-0 attack of the net, Peter Cehlarik reached a loose puck, centered it through the paint to Brendan Gaunce, and the Bruins’ leader in game-winning goals got his eighth game-winner of the year past Desrosiers to end the game 2:18 into overtime, 2-1.
Despite the heartbreaking finish, Springfield did gain one point on fourth-place Charlotte, which lost in regulation to Utica, 2-1. Furthermore, the T-Birds gained one point on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which lost to Binghamton, 6-4.
The T-Birds and Bruins rematch on Saturday night for Pink in the Rink Night at the MassMutual Center. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. and limited tickets remain.