T-Birds Blanked For First Time by Bears

Dec 18, 2016
Hershey, PA The Springfield Thunderbirds (11-11-3-2) could not solve rookie goaltender Vitek Vanecek, and for the first time this year, the Thunderbirds were shut out, as the Hershey Bears (16-6-4-2) pulled out a 4-0 win Sunday at the Giant Center. The win was the Bears' fourth straight triumph over Springfield.
The first period began hesitantly on both sides of the coin, with the game’s first shot not coming until eight minutes of the period had already passed. Springfield went without a shot on an early power play chance just 4:15 into the game, while Reto Berra did not have to see many shots in his kitchen in the opening moments either.

The Bears started warming up with a flurry of chances at the midpoint of the period, but Berra made five saves in short order to keep the game scoreless. Hershey also earned a power play chance of their own, but like the Bears, the Thunderbirds held Hershey off the board in the 5-on-4.

The first period seemed destined to have a quiet ending, but the Bears changed that plan with a goal in the last moments. Liam O’Brien carried into the right wing and down to the goal line before filtering a perfect backhand feed through the crease to Paul Carey, who finished it off with 1:05 left in the first, giving Hershey the 1-0 lead. It was Carey’s 18th consecutive game with at least a point, the longest such streak in the AHL this season.

The second period started inauspiciously for the Thunderbirds, who went shorthanded just seven seconds into the period, but successfully killed off the Hershey power play. 

The old “game of inches” analogy came into play for the Thunderbirds on a Springfield power play at 7:31 of the period. Right off the offensive draw, Ian McCoshen fired a slapper through traffic that beat Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek, but caught the post to keep the Thunderbirds scoreless.

The Thunderbirds would get no closer, and the Bears generated a two-goal outburst in the blink of an eye, with Darren Dietz and Zach Sill scoring just 19 seconds apart to extend the Springfield deficit to 3-0.

Springfield mustered only 10 shots through the first two periods, but they managed 12 attempts in the third period, but Vanecek got through regulation relatively unscathed in picking up his third shutout of the season. It marks the first time in team history that the Thunderbirds were shut out.

At the other end, Hershey added a power play strike to round out the scoring, with Chris Bourque rifling home a one-timer at 5:12 of the third to end the entries to the scoresheet. Berra made 27 stops in the defeat for Springfield.

The Thunderbirds return from the holiday break for back-to-back road games on Dec. 27-28 in Wilkes-Barre and Bridgeport respectively. Both games will drop the puck at 7:05 p.m. ET.
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