T-Birds Go For 1st-Ever 3-in-3 Sweep in HartfordFeb 19, 2017
Hartford, CT- The Springfield Thunderbirds (19-23-7-2) will look to complete the first three-game weekend sweep in their history on Sunday as they visit the Hartford Wolf Pack (19-27-3-2) at the XL Center for a 5:00 p.m. ET puck drop.
The Thunderbirds made it a perfect 2-for-2 weekend on Saturday in a 2-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Springfield. It was already the Thunderbirds' third victory over the Penguins in five contests.
The Penguins would force their league-best penalty killing unit to work on three occasions in the first period with uncharacteristic problems staying out of the box. Springfield’s best chance came as Jayce Hawryluk let go of a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle midway through Springfield’s second power play chance, caroming off a Penguin and then glancing off the crossbar, despite the fans and Hawryluk both thinking the puck had made its way into the net.
Casey DeSmith, making his first start in the Penguins net against Springfield this season, made all eight saves he faced in the first period, with his best coming on a Dryden Hunt punch shot off an odd-man rush.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continued to hand Springfield power play chances into the second period, and after Kevin Porter was guilty of high sticking Kyle Rau off a face-off, the Thunderbirds would finally make the Penguins pay on the ensuing power play.
With Rau fielding a pass on the left-wing side from Matt MacKenzie, Jared McCann streaked into the slot, took a feed on his backhand, and beat DeSmith to the stick side on a close-in maneuver to give Springfield the 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the second. It was the Thunderbirds’ fourth power play goal against the AHL’s top penalty kill.
The third brought with it some adversity for Springfield, as the Penguins finally converted on a power play when David Warsofsky tied the score, 1-1, at the 7:57 mark for his 12th of the season.
Springfield would have to be shorthanded just moments later, and Berra did not let the earlier goal shake his confidence. After winning the crucial face-off to end the penalty kill, Juho Lammikko then found the eventual game-winning goal with hard-nosed effort. With MacKenzie Weegar holding the puck at the right point, Lammikko went to the net-front. Weegar’s shot hit DeSmith in the pad, but the rebound sat loose for Lammikko to chop the rebound over the sprawled goalie to put the Thunderbirds ahead 2-1 at the 11:06 mark of the period.
From there, Berra held down the fort on a night in which he made 34 stops for his first win on home ice since Dec. 16.
The Thunderbirds return to home ice on Friday, Feb. 24 to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the MassMutual Center.
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.