Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (30-33-9-2) will look to continue embracing their role of spoilers on Friday night as they kick off MGM Springfield Fan Appreciation Weekend against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (44-26-3-1) for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop at the MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds and Sound Tigers have played more one-goal games than any other clubs in the AHL in the 2016-17 season. Bridgeport has played 42 games decided by a single goal, while Springfield has had 40 games come down to a single goal. The season series has been tightly contested between the clubs, with three games going into extra time. Bridgeport has the edge in the season series, having won seven of the first 11 matchups.
Keeping with the theme of high suspense, each of the last three games in the season series have been one-goal contests, all won by Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers' 26 one-goal wins are the most in the Eastern Conference.
The two squads last met on April 4 for a morning start in Bridgeport, a game won by the Sound Tigers by a final of 2-1. The teams combined for just 38 total shots in the game.
Springfield has won six of its last seven games inside the MassMutual Center, and dating back to Feb. 17, the Thunderbirds are 10-2-0-0 at their home rink. One of those two losses came to Bridgeport in a 3-2 decision on March 29. Bridgeport, ironically, boasts a 4-0-0-1 record in Springfield this season despite the Thunderbirds' home ice success of late.
The Thunderbirds picked up their 30th victory of their inaugural season in a 4-3 triumph over Providence on Wednesday. The win kept Providence from clinching a playoff berth. Similarly, the Thunderbirds can prevent Bridgeport from reaching the playoffs with a win tonight. Should the Hershey Bears win in Wilkes-Barre against the Penguins, the Sound Tigers would be eliminated with a loss at the MassMutual Center.
To aid in the Hershey efforts, Springfield will look to stop Bridgeport veteran Bracken Kearns, who has torched the Thunderbirds for seven goals in the season series, including another one on March 29 in the last meeting in Springfield.
Adam Wilcox picked up his fifth victory for Springfield on Wednesday against Providence and is looking for his first win over Bridgeport since being acquired by the Thunderbirds on March 1. Since his acquisition, Wilcox is 5-4-1-0 with Springfield, boasting a .924 save percentage and 2.33 goals against average.
The Thunderbirds' 2016-17 season comes to a close on Saturday in a matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack at the MassMutual Center at 7:05 p.m. ET. The day begins with a Block Party at Court Square from 4-6 p.m. ET, featuring music from the band Fat, food and drink. It will also mark the conclusion of a giveaway-filled 48 hours on MGM Springfield Fan Appreciation Weekend.
Interested in becoming a part of the next era of professional hockey in Springfield? Earn your wings with Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 Ticket Memberships, which start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey and brand new Collectors Mug. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.