Jan 6, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - After snapping a six-game losing streak with a win over the Providence Bruins the night before, the Springfield Thunderbirds (16-12-5-3) fell in overtime by a final score of 4-3 to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (20-12-1-2) on Sunday afternoon at the MassMutual Center.


In a tightly contested opening period, the Thunderbirds and Phantoms both played well defensively with both teams combining for 22 shots. Neither team could crack the scoreboard with Sam Montembeault and Alex Lyon turning away every try on net.


Springfield had two chances on the power play in the opening stanza. The first came at the 17:08 mark when Lehigh Valley’s Nicolas Aube-Kubel was assessed a penalty for holding the stick, and the second came with 11 seconds left in the period when Mike Vecchione was called for holding.


Despite entering the second period with 1:49 left on the man-advantage, the Thunderbirds could not connect, and the game remained scoreless in the early stages of the second.


After Jonathan Ang was called for hooking at the 6:17 mark in the second period, the Phantoms got on the board first when Greg Carey notched his 17th goal of the season and fifth against the T-Birds in as many games. Chris Conner spun a backhand try toward the front of the net, and puck caromed right to Carey, who blasted it off Montembeault and into the back of the net, giving Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead at 6:55 of the period..


Operating on their third power play of the night at the 9:24 mark, the T-Birds made sure the third time was the charm when Sebastian Repo gathered up a loose puck from the faceoff circle and had it deflect off him and past Lyon, tying the game at 1-1. Matt Marcinew, who won the draw, picked up the helper on the play at 9:24.


The Phantoms took a 2-1 lead less than four minutes later when Philippe Myers one-timed a shot from the right point past Montembeault on the glove side at 13:16. Carsen Twarynski and Taylor Leier picked up the assists on the go-ahead tally.


Trailing heading into the third period, the T-Birds resiliently battled back to tie the game at 1:27 of the period when Harry Zolnierczyk took a pass from Ian McCoshen and marched into the offensive zone. Zolnierczyk took a short-range wrister before batting in the rebound to get the game even at 2-2.


Springfield then took the lead five minutes later at the 6:50 mark when Josh Brown one-timed the puck through traffic and past Lyon from the right point.


On this afternoon, though the lead would not hold up, as the T-Birds went down two men when Anthony Greco was called for tripping at the 11:07 mark. On the ensuing 5-on-3, the Phantoms connected to thie the game, 3-3, when Connor Bunnaman whacked a puck out of mid-air past Montembeault off an initial slap shot by Carey.


With both teams securing one point, extra time was needed, and 3:21 into overtime, Mark Friedman took a drop pass in the slot and wristed one past Montembeault, giving the Phantoms their first win in four games. Montembeault finished with 40 saves in the losing effort.


The Thunderbirds remain on home ice for the third consecutive game on Friday, Jan. 11 when they take on the Hershey Bears to begin their second consecutive 3-in-3 with puck drop at 7:05 p.m. Friday’s game will also be the latest installment of the 3-2-1 Friday featuring MGM Springfield Pregame Concert Series with live local music on the concourse starting at 6:00 p.m.


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.


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