T-Birds & Comets Rematch Friday NightFeb 17, 2017
Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-23-7-2) begin another three-game, three-night weekend on Friday as they welcome the Utica Comets (20-21-6-2) for the second time in as many weekends for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop at the MassMutual Center.
A quick start proved to be the difference for the Comets in the teams' last meeting on Feb. 11 in Springfield. Utica picked up the 1-0 lead on a goal by Brendan Gaunce at the 1:20 mark, and without hesitation they made it a 2-0 game as Curtis Valk beat Mike McKenna on a breakaway just eight seconds later to put Utica on top by a pair.
The Thunderbirds' defense would stiffen, with McKenna stopping every other shot he would see through the end of regulation. Springfield picked up a power play goal from Ian McCoshen late in the first period to bring the home team to within a goal, but Utica goaltender Richard Bachman provided to be too tough of a foe.
Among the 29-year-old's 31 saves was a dazzling pair of denials on Paul Thompson and Denis Malginoff a Springfield odd-man rush midway through the third.
Despite some troublesome times on home ice, where the Thunderbirds are winless since Jan. 4, a bright spot has been the play of McCoshen. The 21-year-old rookie blueliner out of Boston College has registered points in three of his last five games while providing steady defensive play to the tune of a +5 rating, good for second on the Thunderbirds behind veteran captain Brent Regner.
Up front, rookies Malgin and Jayce Hawryluk continue to provide a jolt of offense to a Springfield club that has scored the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference. Hawryluk has recorded points in three of his last four games, including a set-up for Malgin's second goal of the season last Friday against Hartford.
The Thunderbirds will continue their three-game weekend with a visit from the AHL's top club, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, on Saturday at the MassMutual Center. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET, and the Thunderbirds will follow up that home-ice contest with a trip to Hartford and a rematch with the Wolf Pack on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. ET at the XL Center.
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.