T-Birds Down Devils on Friday the 13th in OT

Jan 13, 2017
Albany, NYThe Springfield Thunderbirds (15-13-5-2) snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Friday night, erasing a 2-1 deficit to down the Albany Devils (21-15-1-1) by a final score of 3-2 on Friday at the Times Union Center.
The Devils carried over the momentum from a strong third period and overtime in the win on Wednesday in Springfield to put the Thunderbirds on their heels in the early action.

Albany pushed the issue despite the fact that they had to kill two Springfield power plays in the first 11:10. The Devils not only successfully killed the pair of minors, but they propelled themselves to the lead on the second disadvantage. Picking up help on a 3-on-2 rush, Max Novak dropped the puck to Jacob MacDonald in the high slot, and the defenseman beat Reto Berra through a screen at the 11:00 mark to put Albany in front, 1-0.

Springfield could not seem to gather itself in the opening 20 minutes, registering just five shots to Albany’s 11. The Thunderbirds’ saving grace was Berra, who stopped 10 of 11, including a pair of crazy, pinball deflections on the Devils’ second of two power plays in the first frame.

A game that had a tame first half of play quickly got a physical wake-up from Ian McCoshen and Ben Thomson, as the pair dropped the gloves at the 8:45 mark. It was a notable scrap from the rookie McCoshen, as Springfield responded on the scoresheet just over three minutes later. 

After some strong cycling in the offensive zone, the Thunderbirds worked it to Brody Sutter in the left corner. The big center whipped a pass through the slot to the right wing side, where Dylan McIlrath one-timed it off the far wall, beating MacKenzie Blackwood with the slapper to tie the score at 11:58.

The tie score would not last long, though. McIlrath, himself, was whistled down for a roughing minor less than two minutes after his goal, and on the ensuing faceoff, Ben Sexton whistled a shot by Berra off a feed from Carter Camper. The goal came just 1:35 after McIlrath had tied the tilt.

Despite the upped energy levels from both sides, the shots were once again 11-5 Albany in the middle frame, mirroring the first period exactly.

Unlike on Wednesday when the Devils pushed the pace in the third, the Thunderbirds exerted themselves with vigor in the final period. Offense did not come easy for Springfield, but they did fire eight of their 18 regulation shots in the third stanza. 

Albany did their best to play keep-away from the Thunderbirds late in regulation, but with a minute to play, Springfield successfully got Reto Berra to the bench for an extra skater, and moments later, Matt MacKenzie fired a right point shot past Blackwood to tie the game with just 52 seconds to go.

Needing overtime for the second time in three nights against the Devils, this time the Thunderbirds found the exclamation point. MacKenzie outletted Sutter, who then found a streaking Shane Harper in over the Albany line. With nobody but the goalie to beat, Harper snapped a perfect wrister by Blackwood to seal the 3-2 win, Springfield’s fourth 3-on-3 winner of the year and Harper’s second.

Springfield is next at home on Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. ET showdown with the Providence Bruins, a team the Thunderbirds split a home-and-home series against on Jan. 6-7. 

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.
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