T-Birds Host Penguins Seeking 4th Straight WinFeb 7, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.– The Springfield Thunderbirds (22-24-1-1) return home looking for a fourth straight triumph as they host the Atlantic Division leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (28-12-3-1) at the MassMutual Center at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night.
Both clubs enter Wednesday's action having won three straight games, as well as seven of their last ten. The Penguins once again find themselves sitting atop the Atlantic Division, much the same way they finished the 2016-17 season. Their .682 points percentage is topped by only Toronto in the Eastern Conference.
Despite numerous call-ups to the NHL-affiliated Pittsburgh Penguins, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has not lost a step, boasting an attack that has seen eight players top the 20-point plateau already through 44 games, including rookie star Daniel Sprong, who leads the team in goals (20) and points (35).
Springfield, meanwhile, enters play coming off an uncharacteristically quiet offensive night last Friday in Bridgeport. The Thunderbirds finished the 60-minute game with a franchise record low 13 shots on goal. Fortunately for Geordie Kinnear's club, that would be enough, as Ludwig Bystrom's first period power play goal was the only tally in a 1-0 shutout win, anchored by Evan Cowley's 25 saves and first AHL blanking.
This will be the third of four meetings between the Thunderbirds and Penguins during the 2017-18 season, but the first inside the MassMutual Center. Springfield went 3-0-0-0 against the Penguins on home ice a season ago. They defeated the Penguins by a 2-1 overtime score on Oct. 29, 2016 before coming away with a second 2-1 win on Feb. 18, 2017 and a 3-1 win on March 31, 2017.
In the first two meetings this regular season, both at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, the Penguins have dialed up the offense to the tune of 10 goals in two games against Springfield, leading to two wins on Dec. 13 (6-3) and Jan. 5 (4-2).
Springfield, likewise, has scored 10 goals over its last two games inside the MassMutual Center, putting up five goals on back-to-back nights against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Providence Bruins on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, respectively.
Cowley has drawn the nets for each of those three victories, and the University of Denver alumnus has stepped up, going unbeaten and posting a 1.67 goals against average and .948 save percentage in the three wins. Cowley has stopped 92 of the last 97 shots he has faced.
This game begins a very important stretch for Springfield that will see the Thunderbirds play seven consecutive games within the Atlantic Division, including a two-game set in Charlotte this Friday and Saturday against the Checkers.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.