T-Birds Begin 3-in-3 @ AlbanyMar 17, 2017
Albany, NY - The Springfield Thunderbirds (25-26-8-2), winners of three straight and seven of their last eleven games, will begin their 11th of 12 three-game weekends on Friday night as they pay a visit to the Albany Devils (34-25-1-1) at the Times Union Center for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.
The two clubs have met only two prior times this season on Jan. 11 and Jan. 13. That week, the visiting team won in overtime each game. First, it was Ben Sexton who downed the Thunderbirds 3-2 at the MassMutual Center. Then on a Friday night in Albany, it was then-Thunderbird and current Devil Shane Harper who provided the knockout punch for Springfield in another narrow 3-2 game.
In each of those two games, the Thunderbirds trailed with less than two minutes to play in regulation and scored a goal with their netminder pulled.
In a contested North Division playoff race, the Devils, winners of two straight games, sit three points behind the Syracuse Crunch for division leadership. Albany also holds a game in hand on the Crunch. Albany, however, is without four of their seven top scorers due to NHL call-ups. Their leading active scorer is 19-goal man Sexton.
In the goal crease, the Devils have had a goaltending-by-committee mentality, with rookies Ken Appleby (27 games) and MacKenzie Blackwood (26 games) trading off duties. Blackwood has earned each of the Devils' last two wins, while Appleby has posted 16 victories on the season along with a 2.44 goals-against average.
On the Springfield side, following the trade of Mike McKenna and the Panthers' recall of Reto Berra, both Adam Wilcox and Sam Brittain have been thrust into goaltending action. Wilcox is coming off of his first shutout as a Thunderbird in a 26-save masterpiece in Sunday's 2-0 win over Rochester.
Brittain only needed to make 13 saves on Saturday in a 5-2 Springfield win over Hartford in front of a sold-out MassMutual Center on Pink in the Rink night. Brittain is now 2-1-0 with the Thunderbirds this season with a 1.85 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Wilcox, through three games with Springfield, holds a 2-1-0 mark with a .916 save percentage and 2.57 goals-against average.
Offensively, the Thunderbirds attack has lately been anchored by Paul Thompson and Anthony Greco. Each player scored four goals in the three-game sweep of Syracuse, Hartford and Rochester. Thompson's five-point weekend earned him CCM AHL Player of the Week honors. Thompson leads all Thunderbirds with 15 goals despite playing in just 36 games with Springfield this season.
After Friday's St. Patrick's Day showdown, the Thunderbirds take to the road again on Saturday to visit the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. The Devils will then revisit Springfield for a rematch on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET as part of a Friendly's Sundae Funday.
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 and brand new Collectors Mug. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.