T-Birds-Bruins Battle Resumes in SpringfieldJan 14, 2017
Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (15-13-5-2) have picked up three of a possible four points this week despite trailing late in the third period in a pair of contests on Wednesday and Friday against Albany. Tonight, they look to get their first home ice victory over the Providence Bruins (21-9-4-3) when the two rivals square off at the MassMutual Center at 7:05 p.m. ET.
The Thunderbirds and Bruins played host to a spirited and physical entanglement last Saturday in front of over 6,300 in Springfield. Before the dust settled on a 4-1 Bruins win, the two teams had combined for 98 penalty minutes, and the two squads dropped the mitts on three different occasions.
Tonight's matchup is the third between Springfield and Providence already in the month January. Springfield preceded the Bruins' 4-1 win on Jan. 7 with a 4-1 win of its own at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Jan. 6. On that evening, a major penalty by Providence's Tyler Randell cut short a Bruins' third-period comeback attempt, and Brody Sutter scored late in the major power play to put Springfield ahead to stay.
Following their loss at home a week ago Saturday, the Thunderbirds took things down to the wire in each of their last two games against the Albany Devils, a team Springfield had yet to see in the 2016-17 season prior to this week. The Thunderbirds' scooped up a point on Wednesday in a 3-2 overtime defeat thanks to MacKenzie Weegar's goal late in regulation before Ben Sexton won it in overtime for the Devils.
Friday night, the Thunderbirds shook off a shaky first 40 minutes that saw them register only 10 shots on net. With time dwindling down late in the third, Springfield once again yanked the goaltender, this timeReto Berra, and, once again, struck for a clutch goal from a defenseman.
Moments after Berra's dash to the bench Matt MacKenzie fired a right point shot past Devils goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood to tie the game with just 52 seconds to go.
Needing overtime for the second time in three nights against the Devils, this time the Thunderbirds found the exclamation point. MacKenzie outletted Sutter, who then found a streaking Shane Harper in over the Albany line. With nobody but the goalie to beat, Harper snapped a perfect wrister by Blackwood to seal the 3-2 win, Springfield’s fourth 3-on-3 winner of the year and Harper’s second.
Following Friday's thrilling triumph, the Thunderbirds now sit just eight points back of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, by virtue of the Hershey Bears' 6-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Thunderbirds (37 points) also hold a game-in-hand on the Bears (45 points).
The Thunderbirds will not get the benefit of rest following what is likely to be another bruising battle with the Bruins. Springfield immediately jumps back on the ice on Monday for a special 1:05 p.m. ET start time against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, a team that has defeated Springfield twice this season in Allentown, scoring 10 goals over those two contests.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 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.