T-Birds Host Wolf Pack on Willie O'Ree NightNov 3, 2017
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (1-8-1-0) will get a second crack at their I-91 rivals on Friday, as they take on the Hartford Wolf Pack (4-5-0-1) at the MassMutual Center for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
The night will begin with a very notable appearance by hockey legend Willie O'Ree, who became the AHL's first black player 60 years ago in Springfield for the Indians. There will be a pre-game ceremony with O'Ree at the center of the festivities, whereby he will be inducted into the Springfield Hockey Hall of Fame.
On the ice, the Thunderbirds will look to pick up just their second win of the season and first in the last four contests. Springfield will receive some reinforcements with the return of Denis Malgin to Springfield on a loan from the team's NHL affiliate, the Florida Panthers.
In three games with Springfield, Malgin has registered one assist. He tallied 12 points in 15 games with the Thunderbirds a season ago. The 5-foot-9, 177-pound native of Olten, Switzerland was originally selected by Florida in the fourth round (102nd overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.
The Thunderbirds fell in their first matchup with the Wolf Pack, a 4-3 Hartford victory in front of a sold-out MassMutual Center crowd on Oct. 14. Chris Nell made 33 saves for the Wolf Pack in the visitors' win, while Harri Sateri took the loss after a 34-save performance.
Offensively, the Thunderbirds continue to be paced by Curtis Valk and Juho Lammikko, who each enter play on Friday with eight points in the team's first 10 games. Henrik Haapala has also provided a spark to the Thunderbirds' attack, recording assists in two straight games and points in three of his first five AHL games.
The Wolf Pack enter Springfield riding the strong offensive performances of 18-year-old Filip Chytil (nine points in six games) and Cole Schneider (nine points in 10 games). Hartford also boasts one of the AHL's top power play units, clicking 10 times for a 25% rate through ten games this season. They are 38.1% on the power play away from the XL Center, going 8-for-21 in road games.
Tonight could mark the return to Springfield for defenseman Tim Erixon, who began the season with the Binghamton Devils. Erixon played two seasons for the Springfield Falcons from 2012-14, recording 67 points in 80 games.
After the Friday night matchup, the Thunderbirds and Wolf Pack will rematch on Sunday in Hartford for a 5:00 p.m. start. Springfield will travel to Bridgeport tomorrow for its first tangle with the Sound Tigers at 7:00 p.m. at the Webster Bank Arena.
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.