T-Birds, Bruins Begin Stretch of Three Meetings in Nine NightsJan 6, 2017
Providence, RI- The Springfield Thunderbirds (13-12-4-2) will begin a busy stretch against their Atlantic Division rival Providence Bruins (19-7-4-3) on Friday night as the two clubs meet at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
Friday marks the second home-and-home series between the Thunderbirds and Bruins this season. Providence enters play as perhaps the hottest team in the AHL, having won 10 of its last 11 games. Providence has also earned at least one point in the standings in an incredible 22 of its last 24 contests. Springfield will face the Bruins three times between now and Jan. 14, and six times total between Friday and Feb. 26.
Springfield has been feasting on home ice of late, having won four straight at the MassMutual Center heading into tonight's road test. Springfield is looking to return to its early season success on the road, having lost their last four contests away from home.
Mike McKenna has played his best hockey of the season in the Thunderbirds' net, having won his last two starts while stopping 58 of the last 62 shots.
McKenna also handed the Bridgeport Sound Tigers their first loss beyond regulation time when he stopped five of six shooters in a 3-2 shootout win on Wednesday night on home ice.
Springfield will be without the services of Jared McCann, who was recalled on Thursday by the Florida Panthers. However, Jayce Hawryluk has made his return from injury and provided his first AHL point in Wednesday night's victory. Tonight marks the 21-year-old's first road game in the professional ranks.
Tim Bozon saw his three-game goal streak come to an end on Wednesday in regulation, but the French forward provided the game-deciding marker in the shootout, an attempt that slipped off his stick but still beat Jaroslav Halak.
The Thunderbirds and Bruins enter play separated by 14 points in the Atlantic Division standings, but the Bruins are without one of their biggest reasons for their win streak, as goaltender Zane McIntyre received a call-up from the Boston Bruins earlier on Friday. McIntyre was an integral part of the Bruins' 2-1 overtime win over Springfield on Dec. 4 in Providence, stopping 38 of 39 shots.
Each of the three prior matchups between the two clubs needed more than 60 minutes to determine a victor. Providence prevailed in a shootout in Springfield on Nov. 19, 5-4, while the Thunderbirds got payback in a 3-2 overtime win on Dec. 3 thanks to Shane Harper's overtime tally.
The two clubs return to Springfield on Saturday to welcome Rene Rancourt for a special appearance and anthem performance, presented by King Ward Coach Lines. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET.
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.