T-Birds Host Marlies For First Time Sunday

Jan 22, 2017

Springfield, MAThe Springfield Thunderbirds (15-16-6-2) and Toronto Marlies (16-20-2-1) will both look to cap off three-in-three weekends with a win on Sunday when they meet at the MassMutual Center for a 3:05 p.m. ET puck drop

The Thunderbirds have succumbed to late game heartache in each of the last four losses, three of which were decided by one goal. On Saturday, the Binghamton Senators, trailing 2-1 in the game's final two minutes, pulled their netminder and got the payoff as Jason Akeson beat Mike McKenna with just over a minute to play, forcing overtime.

In the extra period, Binghamton and Springfield traded chances to no avail, but a too many men on the ice penalty against the Thunderbirds set the Senators up with a 4-on-3 power play. From there, Francis Perron blasted a perfectly placed slap shot past McKenna to secure Binghamton's third consecutive victory.

In Springfield's last four games, they have allowed a game-tying or game-winning goal with less than six minutes to play in regulation in every game. By virtue of their point in overtime last night, Springfield did gain one point of ground on the Hershey Bears in the Atlantic Division standings. Springfield enters play Sunday with 38 points, behind Hershey's 47 points and fourth-place position.

The Marlies, on the other hand, have hit a downward spiral since starting the season a red-hot 6-1-0-0. Since Nov. 12, the Marlies have only won back-to-back games on one occasion while falling all the way to the cellar of the North Division with just 35 points. Toronto has allowed three or more goals in five of its last six contests, including four on Saturday night in a 4-3 loss at Bridgeport. 

The Thunderbirds and Western Massachusetts hockey fans may see a familiar face on the other side, as Seth Griffith made his Toronto debut on Saturday in Bridgeport. Griffith, who was claimed off of waivers by the Florida Panthers earlier this fall, was again placed on waivers on Thursday before being reclaimed by Toronto, the team that waived him less than three months ago. The Marlies have been paced offensively by Brendan Leipsic, whose 26 assists put him in a tie for fourth in the AHL. 

The Thunderbirds' offense has seemed to find a dynamic rookie duo this weekend, as both Denis Malgin and Jayce Hawryluk have scored and assisted on combination plays the past two nights. Malgin scored his first AHL goal a night after recording his first helper, putting Springfield up 2-1 in the third period. With his assist on Malgin's goal, Hawryluk now has points in three straight games, including his first AHL goal on Friday against Bridgeport. 

The Thunderbirds will have little time for rest following Sunday's matinee, as they visit the Utica Comets on Wednesday for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. From there, the Thunderbirds return home for a first-time matchup with Syracuse on Friday. 

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.

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