T-Birds Demonize Phantoms With Six-Goal StampedeJan 12, 2018
Allentown, PA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (15-21-1-1) continue their Pennsylvania trek on Friday night with a visit to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (21-11-2-3) at the PPL Center on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET.
After going 1-for-39 in the last nine games on the power play and just 8-for-86 on the road to start the season, the Thunderbirds man advantage finally broke through on its first attempt on Friday night in Allentown. With a screen in front, Anthony Greco fired a slapper through traffic at the right point. After it ticked off a Phantoms defender, Jayce Hawryluk deflected it off his blade and up over Lehigh Valley goalie Alex Lyon to get Springfield on the board first, 1-0.
Sam Montembeault made his 11th straight start in the Springfield net and picked up right where he left off from his 35-save display on Wednesday in Hershey, kicking out the right leg to make a splendid point-blank save on Steven Swavely moments later to keep the score 1-0.
However, the always quick-transitioning Phantoms offense finally brought the game back even when Nic Aube-Kubel snapped a wrister over Montembeault's glove at 18:31 to bring the first intermission score to a 1-1 tie.
The Thunderbirds attack took no prisoners in the second period in a barrage that saw Springfield outshoot Lehigh Valley 14-5. Rob Hamilton jumped into a rush to create a 2-on-1 into the Phantoms zone, where Eddie Wittchow deflected home a cross-ice feed to make it a 2-1 game at 5:03.
Lehigh Valley showed some fight back when Phil Varone tied things at 12:22 with his 100th AHL goal.
Not deterred, the Thunderbirds responded three times in the next 3:20 to push their lead to a three-spot. First, it was a second straight success on the power play when Dryden Hunt knocked a bouncing puck over Lyon at 13:26.
Just 51 seconds later, Mark Fayne slapped one at the net from the right point and received a fortuitous bounce off the stick of Phantoms defenseman Mark Friedman before beating Lyon over the glove side.
Not satisfied with just a 4-2 lead, the Thunderbirds added to it another 2:12 later as Chase Balisy recorded his first tally since Dec. 13 as he found a loose puck in the slot and snapped it through Lyon at 16:29 to close the second period with a 5-2 Thunderbirds lead showing on the scoreboard.
The four-goal outburst in the second was just the third period of four or more tallies in team history, with two of them coming against Lehigh Valley. The last came in a Thunderbirds 5-3 win on Feb. 24, 2017 in Springfield against the Phantoms, and that night also came with a four-goal second period on the Springfield side.
With the game's result unquestionable in the third, Balisy added one more for good measure, locating a bouncing puck in the slot, and punching a turnaround forehand shot through Lyon at 7:44 to close out the scoring on a night that saw Greco pick up his second four-point game of the season and Ryan Horvat accrue three assists for his second three-point game of the year.
At the other end, Montembeault's 10th win came with just 17 saves, but many timely ones on a night where the Phantoms offense was frustrated on its way to a fourth consecutive defeat.
Springfield will have Saturday off after the Friday night beatdown in Allentown before hitting the road again to face the Providence Bruins on Sunday at the Dunkin' Donuts Center at 3:05 p.m. ET.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.