T-BIRDS CAN'T OVERCOME EARLY COMETS CHARGEFeb 2, 2019
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (21-17-6-4) could not overcome a slow start on Saturday night in a 4-3 loss to the Utica Comets (24-19-3-2) at the MassMutual Center before a crowd of over 6,000.
The Utica scoring barrage began not even 90 seconds into play. After captain Paul Thompson was called for interference 1:19 into the first period, Utica got on the board first six seconds later at the 1:26 mark when Evan McEneny wristed one past Montembeault from the left point.
After Bobby Farnham was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct at 1:44, the Comets wasted no time scoring their second power play goal when Jonathan Dalen slapped the puck home on a centering feed by Brendan Gaunce, increasing his team’s lead to 2-0.
29 seconds later, Cam Darcy marched into the Thunderbirds zone and cut to the middle before wristed the puck through Montembeault’s legs, giving Utica a 3-0 lead 3:16 into the first period.
Montembeault was relieved of his net, and Chris Driedger came on to try to stem the tide. Shortly thereafter, Sebastian Repo sniped a quick wrister past Utica goaltender Michael Leighton from the high slot at the 10:52 mark.
The second period was quieter on the scoreboard than the first, with neither team being able to put one in the back of the net and Springfield nearly outshooting Utica 9-8. The T-Birds went into the middle break outshooting the Comets 27-21, however.
Physicality ran rampant in the second period with both teams exchanging hits and occasionally fists. At the 10:26 mark, Tony Turgeon and Zack MacEwen dropped the gloves, but were quickly broken up by linesmen.
The teams went into the second break with 24 penalty minutes combined.
After McEneny was called for interference at the 4:03 mark of the final frame, the T-Birds struck first in the third period when Jacob MacDonald slapped one home from the point at the 4:12 mark, making it 3-2. The power play strike was MacDonald’s 11th of the season, and it broke a 1-for-19 slump for the Springfield power play.
However, this time the Comets finally solved Driedger on a night when the T-Birds backup stopped 23 of 24 shots. The Comets took a 4-2 lead when Tanner Kero fielded a centering pass in the middle of the ice from Reid Boucher and tapped it through Driedger. It was Utica’s third straight successful power play.
The Thunderbirds made it 4-3 three minutes later when Jamie McGinn potted his first goal of the season thanks to two slick touch passes from Repo and Anthony Greco . McGinn was skating in his first game in the AHL since April of 2011.
On Wednesday night, the T-Birds complete their three game homestand with a 7:05 p.m. tangle with the Hershey Bears.
For tickets and more information about Springfield Thunderbirds tickets or ticket packages, visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com or call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).