T-Birds Fight Past Sound Tigers on Teddy Bear Toss NightDec 9, 2017
Springfield, MA - The Springfield Thunderbirds (10-16-1-0) walked away from a rough battle victorious as they defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (12-9-1-1) by a final score of 4-3 at the MassMutual Center on Saturday night. The game featured a combined 82 penalty minutes and five misconducts.
For a second straight year, the Thunderbirds took less than two minutes to find the net and cause the teddy bear barrage. This time around, Maxim Mamin took a feed from Curtis Valk at the top of the right circle, spun into the high slot, and fired a seeing-eye wrister that beat Chris Gibson along the ice just 1:24 into the first. Josh Brown also picked up a helper in just his second game back from injury.
After the teddy bear cleanup, the Sound Tigers responded admirably, outshooting Springfield 9-4 the rest of the way in the first 20 minutes. It only took one defensive mistake by Springfield to bring the game back to even. Tanner Fritz picked up a loose puck in center to start a 2-on-1 back into the Thunderbirds zone, and Bridgeport's leading point producer stashed it over the glove hand of Sam Montembeault.
A 1-1 tie carried through the early stages of period two. Springfield would finally kick it into a higher gear to break the deadlock. With a Bridgeport defenseman caught flat-footed in center, Mamin led Alex Grenier into the offensive zone. The big winger drove around the defense and stashed a second-chance shot past Gibson to break the tie at 10:03 of the second.
Not to be outdone, Jayce Hawryluk, who was a pest throughout the night, stepped onto the ice with fresh legs after serving a 10-minute misconduct. After Thomas Schemitsch moved away from two defenders into the right wing corner, he elevated a cross-ice feed to Hawryluk in the left circle, and the winger stuffed it over Gibson's stick to make it a 3-1 Springfield lead.
Just 51 seconds into the third, Hawryluk was at it again, driving the left post and tipping home a feed from Chase Balisy to make it 4-1.
From there, things spiraled into a rage-filled period that saw Ross Johnston and Bobby Farnham take 29 and 15 penalty minutes respectively on the same sequence. After Hawryluk took a high-stick from Johnston, the big winger for Bridgeport retaliated by attacking Hawryluk with punches before Farnham intercepted his teammate and got into a lengthy altercation with Johnston.
Both players earned game misconducts for their actions, and Johnston picked up three different misconducts on the night.
The Sound Tigers seemed to find a new energy after killing off four minutes' worth of Johnston penalties against a Springfield power play that once again came up empty on five opportunities. Devon Toews tallied the game's lone power play marker at 9:42, and Steve Bernier added another with a 6-on-5 goal at 17:42.
From there, though, Montembeault and the defense battened down the hatches to survive the last-minute flurry.
Following the commotion of Teddy Bear Toss night, the Thunderbirds continue their first and only three-game weekend of the month on Sunday for a 5:00 p.m. puck drop in Hartford against the Wolf Pack at the XL Center.
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 visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.