T-Birds Emerge Victorious Over Wolf PackNov 3, 2017
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (2-8-1-0) rode a marvelous 38-save performance from their goaltender to a 5-3 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack (4-6-0-1) at the MassMutual Center on Friday night.
A first period featuring six minor penalties saw no special teams success from either side, but a strong Springfield power play generated scoring chances at the midpoint of the period, and the Thunderbirds responded shortly thereafter.
Coming out of the right wing corner with control of the puck, Dryden Hunt opened up some space in the circle and fired a wrister that careened off the leg of Anthony Greco and past goaltender Alex Georgiev for the game's opening goal at 10:18 to put Springfield on top 1-0. Hunt and Henrik Haapala picked up assists on Greco's second goal in two games.
Less than six minutes later, again it would be Hunt and Haapala setting up a tally with good cycling work in the right wing corner. Curtis Valk set himself up for a pass from the bottom of the right circle and then found a slim target over the left shoulder of Georgiev to put Springfield ahead 2-0 after 20 minutes.
At the other end, Sam Montembeault was sturdy in the first period, helping kill off two power plays against a Hartford unit that entered clicking at 38% on the man advantage on the road. Montembeault's best stop came on a breakaway denial of rookie sensation Filip Chytil in the final minute of the first.
The Thunderbirds would give themselves a bit of a challenge to start the second, as Reece Scarlettaccumulated two separate minor penalties to force Springfield down a man for 3:01 to start the middle frame. Hartford, in turn, would make the T-Birds pay, as Vinni Lettieri beat Montembeault just 12 seconds into the second to cut the lead in half.
Another minor penalty on Springfield created a 5-on-3 on the back end of Scarlett's two minor penalties, and in the closing seconds of two-man advantage time, Joe Whitney tapped home a backhand feed from Cole Schneider to tie the game, 2-2, at 2:09.
With the Wolf Pack having the edge in momentum, the Thunderbirds hung on through some dangerous times in the defensive zone, with Montembeault again rising to the challenge with a breakaway denial of Lettieri late in the frame. After failing on their first four power plays, the Springfield man advantage unit finally clicked in the closing moments of the middle stanza.
Taking a feed from Alex Grenier in the left wing corner, with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Jayce Hawryluk successfully pinballed a centering pass off of a Wolf Pack defender and over the glove of Georgiev to restore the Thunderbirds' lead heading into the third, 3-2.
Springfield made sure the Wolf Pack would not get any closer, as Valk steamrolled in over the right wing side and beat Georgiev with a quick forehand snap shot to make it 4-2 at 2:49 of the third.
Moments later, Montembeault denied rookie star Filip Chytil on a breakaway, then sprawled to his left to stonewall Schneider during a penalty kill to keep his team ahead by two.
Mike Downing would add an empty-netter while shorthanded to put up Springfield's second five-goal night of the year. Whitney added his second of the night and third Wolf Pack power play goal to round out the scoring.
The Thunderbirds and Wolf Pack will rematch on Sunday in Hartford for a 5:00 p.m. start. Springfield will travel to Bridgeport tomorrow for its first tangle with the Sound Tigers at 7:00 p.m. at the Webster Bank Arena.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages start at just $12 per game, and Thunderbirds Full Season Ticket Members receive the most benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug and a commemorative jersey. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visitwww.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.