T-Birds Hope For Continued Success vs. PenguinsDec 13, 2017
Wilkes-Barre, PA - The Springfield Thunderbirds (10-17-1-0) will seek their fifth win in seven tries against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (14-7-1-1) at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop on Wednesday.
The Thunderbirds got the better of a Penguins team that captured the best record in the Eastern Conference a season ago, defeating Wilkes-Barre/Scranton four times in six tries, including a 1-0 triumph in their first-ever visit to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Oct. 21 of last season.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton once again raced out to a strong start, going 12-2-0-1 in its first 15 games. However, the Penguins have had tougher sledding of late, going 2-5-1-0 in their last eight contests. The Penguins did snap a four-game losing streak by virtue of a 4-1 win in Hershey on Sunday against the Bears.
The Penguins are led offensively by rookie winger Daniel Sprong, who much like Jake Guentzel a season ago has rocketed out of the gates to the tune of 12 goals in his first 22 pro games, including seven on the power play. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will also receive reinforcements between the pipes, as Casey DeSmith rejoined the club after Matt Murray returned from injury for the NHL affiliates in Pittsburgh.
The Thunderbirds' trip to Wilkes-Barre will be their last road game until after the Christmas holiday, as Springfield will play a five-game homestand following action tonight.
The Thunderbirds got off to a rocky start in their last performance on Sunday, as the Hartford Wolf Pack dominated puck possession and the shot counter in the first 20 minutes, with 17 shots on goal to Springfield's 3 in the first period.
Trailing 3-0 in the second period, Springfield's special teams clawed back into the game, with Henrik Haapala redirecting a Tim Erixon point shot through Marek Mazenec to cut the lead to 3-1 at 6:23.
Just over nine minutes later, the shorthanded unit got the Thunderbirds one step closer, as Bobby Farnham took a stretch pass from Ludwig Bystrom before dropping it back for Juho Lammikko. Lammikko quickly snapped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Mazanec to pick up Springfield's third shorthanded tally of the season to make it 3-2 at 15:27.
Springfield was gift-wrapped a chance to tie the score in the second period when Hartford took back to back penalties just 44 seconds apart in the closing moments of the period. However, Steven Fogarty came up with the play of the game for Hartford, intercepting a Springfield pass, then going end-to-end to beat Cowley on a rebound to make it a 4-2 game in the dying seconds of the middle period.
Springfield would never recover from that shorthanded goal, the seventh allowed by the T-Birds this season. The T-Birds and Penguins are tied for the distinction of allowing the most shorthanded goals in the AHL (7).
The Thunderbirds return home for the first of five straight at the MassMutual Center on Friday night for a spirited rematch with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. Springfield then hosts Hartford on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. for another I-91 rivalry matchup, with the first 1,500 fans in attendance receiving a Boomer Claus holiday ornament, compliments of Balise.
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.