T-BIRDS' COMEBACK THWARTED LATE BY BRUINSJan 12, 2019
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-13-5-3) climbed back from a three-goal deficit but succumbed late to the Providence Bruins (18-16-5-0) by a final score of 4-3 on Saturday night at MassMutual Center in front of a sellout crowd of 6,793.
Springfield had a tough time getting anything going at the offensive end in the opening period, registering just two shots to Providence’s 15.
After Riley Stillman was called for elbowing, the Bruins got on the board first at the 9:21 mark when Peter Cehlarik one-timed a cross-rink feed by Urho Vaakaninen past Chris Driedger over the shoulder to make it 1-0.
Seven minutes later, Providence was back on the power play after Chris Wideman was called for a cross-check in the corner along the near-side boards. At the 16:46 mark, Gemel Smith gave Trent Frederic a perfect feed in the left circle, and Frederic gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead on a one-time tap-in of his own.
Providence extended their lead again in the second period at 12:46 as Cehlarik crept to the front of the goal and picked up a loose puck and shuffled it over Driedger’s shoulder for his second of the game to make it 3-0 Bruins. Smith and Paul Carey got the helpers.
Springfield got its chance to claw back into the game when Vaakaninen was called for two minor penalties at the 12:55 mark. On the ensuing Thunderbirds power play, Matt Marcinew got the home team on the board by picking up a puck off a defender and firing home a short-range wrist shot over Zane McIntyre. Matt Mangene and Ludwig Bystrom picked up the helpers on the play.
After McIntyre himself was assessed a slashing penalty at the 3:57 mark in the third period, the T-Birds cut the Bruins lead to 3-2 when Sebastian Repo pounced on a blunder by Chris Breen in the Providence zone and slipped the puck through McIntyre’s five hole on a mini-breakaway.
With Springfield trailing into the final minutes and Driedger off to the bench for an extra skater, the T-Birds got the game back even with 1:52 left in regulation. After Jonathan Ang and Marcinew both took shots that were stopped by McIntyre in close, the puck jumped out into the high slot. Dryden Hunt pounced on the loose puck and slapped it past the Providence netminder, tying the score 3-3 and sending the MassMutual Center crowd into a frenzy.
The euphoria would be short-lived, though, as 51 seconds later, Paul Carey moved down the middle of the Springfield zone untouched, took a pass from Cehlarik, and wristed it over Driedger’s glove to win the game for Providence with just 1:01 left on the clock.
Driedger took the hard-luck defeat, stopping 25 of 29 shots in the game, while McIntyre won his third straight start by making 19 saves on 22 opportunities.
On Sunday, Springfield travels to the Providence to take on the P-Bruins in the second of a home-and-home series. It will be the clubs’ first meeting all season at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including the lowest prices for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.