T-Birds Hang 6 On Rocket in Front of Sellout Crowd

Nov 11, 2017
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (3-11-1-0) erased a 3-0 first intermission deficit and rallied for a 6-4 win on Saturday over the Laval Rocket (7-5-2-0) at a sold out MassMutual Center on David Ortiz Night.

Both teams would receive early power plays, but goaltenders Sam Montembeault for Springfield and Michael McNiven for Laval held the fort through a busy first 15 minutes of play.
However, things would turn up roses for Laval late in the period. It began on a power play, as man-advantage rifleman Chris Terry whistled a one-time rocket through the legs of Montembeault to put the Rocket on top 1-0 at 17:34.
Even back at full strength, things would not get any better for Springfield as Jeremy Gregoire set up to the right of Montembeault and deflected a Jakub Jerabek shot past the Thunderbirds rookie goalie to push the Laval lead to 2-0 at 18:07, just 33 seconds after the goal by Terry.
Laval would not ease up on the accelerator, either. In the final minute of the period, off an odd-man rush through the neutral zone, Terry filtered a saucer pass to the middle of the ice, where Peter Holland was left alone in front of Montembeault. The veteran deked subtly to the backhand before sliding it through the wickets of Montembeault to make it a 3-0 Laval lead after one, despite Springfield outshooting Laval 13-12.
McNiven, making his first AHL start, was strong in the first 20 minutes for the Rocket, denying every Thunderbirds shot - most notably two point blank rebound saves with his team shorthanded, turning away former Montreal forward Bobby Farnham.
Trailing 3-0 on David Ortiz Night, fittingly the Thunderbirds made sure the New England team would not go down quietly. It began on an innocent deflection by Mikkel Aagaard, who stationed himself in the high slot and redirected an Eddie Wittchow shot through McNiven at 2:14.
After Montembeault and the penalty kill stepped up to kill off two Laval power plays in a 3-1 game, the Thunderbirds went to the offensive. Lurking in the neutral zone behind the Rocket defense, Denis Malgin accepted a bank pass from Tim Erixon and beat McNiven on a backhand-to-forehand breakaway move to pull Springfield to within one at 3-2 with 5:41 on the second period clock.
Finally, it would be Springfield's turn with the power play, and the man advantage unit struck to complete the second period comeback. Malgin again found himself at the center of it, hitting Chase Balisy in the left circle with a cross-seam pass, and Balisy's first goal since Oct. 13 tied the score, 3-3 at 17:07.
The third period started with the Thunderbirds carrying the momentum from there. Curtis Valk drove to the net on the left and side and deflected home a feed from Alex Grenier to give Springfield its first lead at 4-3 just 37 seconds into the third period.
Laval then picked up a bench minor penalty, putting Springfield to an immediate power play chance, and Malgin laced home his second goal of the night on a slap shot from the top of the right circle to extend the Thunderbirds lead to 5-3.
The Rocket would claw back to within one in the final minute on a tally by Daniel Carr, but Valk sealed it in the closing seconds with an empty netter to secure a 6-4 triumph. Montembeault finished his night with 32 saves for his second win of the season.
The Thunderbirds jump right back onto the ice tomorrow for a 3:05 p.m. matinee with the Providence Bruins. Coverage can be heard of NewsRadio 560 WHYN beginning at 2:50.
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.
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