T-Birds Host Phantoms Seeking Record 4th Straight WinFeb 24, 2017
Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (20-23-7-2) will look to pick up a franchise record fourth consecutive win on Friday as they open a three-game, three-night weekend against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (34-16-2-0) at the MassMutual Center for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
The Thunderbirds are coming off of their best weekend in franchise history, as they completed their first-ever three-game, three-night sweep thanks to victories over the Utica Comets (5-2) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2-1) on home ice and a road triumph over the Hartford Wolf Pack (4-2).
It was a banner weekend for Springfield goaltenders. Mike McKenna made a combined 56 saves in a pair of victories over Utica and Hartford, and with his win in Hartford, he became the first American born goaltender in AHL history to reach the 200 win mark. He is just the 15th goaltender in AHL history to eclipse 200 career victories.
Equally impressive, Reto Berra picked up his second win in as many starts against the AHL's top club, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Berra stopped 34 of 35 shots, including two in the final minute as the Penguins emptied their net for a 6-on-4 power play advantage. Springfield has now defeated the league's top club in three of five meetings this season. Berra has stopped 57 of 58 shots against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in two starts.
The Thunderbirds saw one of their most productive offensive weekends of the season, with Jared McCann seeing his was onto the scoresheet on back-to-back nights, including a goal and an assist on Sunday in Hartford. On the blue line, All-Star MacKenzie Weegar continued his marvelous season with two more goals in three games, upping his team-high total to 12. Only the Phantoms' T.J. Brennan (17) and Syracuse's Matt Taormina (13) have scored more goals from the blue line in the AHL this season.
The Phantoms enter Springfield having won each of the first three matchups between the two clubs, scoring 14 goals in three games. Former Springfield Falcon Greg Carey scored two goals to help the Phantoms erase a 3-1 deficit in a come-from-behind 4-3 win at the MassMutual Center on Jan. 16.
The Phantoms average a league-high 3.67 goals per game and have seven skaters who have already reached the 30-point plateau this season. Lehigh Valley is without leading scorer Jordan Weal (47 points), who was recalled by the Philadelphia Flyers shortly after the All-Star break. Brennan's 43 points from the back end lead all AHL rearguards.
After kicking off the weekend with the Phantoms, the Thunderbirds will welcome in the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET for Hometown Heroes Night presented by United Bank. To conclude the weekend, Springfield will visit the Providence Bruins for a 3:05 p.m. faceoff on Sunday.
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.