T-Birds, Bears Renew Acquaintances in Hershey

Nov 26, 2016
Hershey, PA  The Springfield Thunderbirds (7-6-2-2) will hope the third time is the charm as they face the Hershey Bears (10-4-3-1) on Saturday night at the Giant Center in Hershey, one night removed from a 5-2 Hershey win at the MassMutual Center, the Bears' second win over the Thunderbirds in two games this season. 

Friday's loss did not come without silver linings for Springfield. The Bears’ penalty kill entered on a 21-for-21 hot streak, but the Thunderbirds quickly rained on that parade when Mike Downing got a point shot through traffic and past Joe Cannata at 9:26 of the period on the game’s first power play for either team. 

Shane Harper followed up Downing's goal with his first in a Springfield uniform in the first period's final minute to give the Thunderbirds a 2-1 first intermission lead. 

Cannata was forced to be the Bears’ best player on the ice early in the second period, and on a night where he made 25 stops, Cannata would not relinquish another goal to the home side.

The game’s complexion changed on a too many men on the ice minor to Springfield at the 14:39 mark of the frame. The Bears offense picked up steam, and on the ensuing power play, Christian Djoos fired a wrist shot from the left circle over the arm of Reto Berra at 15:13. 

After Djoos’ tying goal, the Bears followed the Thunderbirds’ example in the first period, getting a last-minute, lead-changing tally. This time, Darren Dietz flipped a point shot at Berra’s net. Berra made the first save, but in doing so kicked the rebound right to charging Hershey winger Nathan Walker, who slammed the rebound into the open net to give Hershey a 3-2 lead heading into the final period. 

The third period began with some fisticuff fireworks, as Ryan Horvat and Zach Sill got their respective benches and the crowd inside the MassMutual Center energized with a spirited scrap 2:57 into the final frame.

Just moments later, a pair of players on each side picked up roughing minors after a whistle as the game’s animosity reached a boiling status. After the Bears sealed the win in the last two minutes with a pair of empty net goals, the game  ended with some words and shoves leading into Saturday night's rematch.
The Bears, by virtue of their Friday win, now sit fourth in a crowded Atlantic Division leaderboard, and Hershey has a record of 4-0-1 in the last five games. The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, have not triumphed since their 4-0 shutout of the Binghamton Senators on Nov. 12. Springfield is 0-2-1-2 in the last five games. 
Following the conclusion of the weekend's home-and-home series, the Thunderbirds return home for a pair of games on Dec. 2-3 against Bridgeport and Providence respectively. Friday's contest on Dec. 2 marks Star Wars Night and another $1 Night featuring the MGM Springfield Concert Series, while Saturday brings with it the first ever Teddy Bear Toss in Springfield hockey history presented by Teddy Bear Pools and Spas. Additionally, the Dec. 3 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).

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