T-Birds Look For 3rd Straight I-91 Rivalry WinMar 1, 2017
Hartford, CT- The Springfield Thunderbirds (22-24-7-2) will look to win their third consecutive matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack (20-30-3-2) when the two clubs meet for a 7:00 p.m. ET puck drop at the XL Center.
The Wolf Pack, who sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, will have a new-look roster on Wednesday, having made a plethora of roster moves near the trading deadline. Hartford shipped its captain, defenseman Mat Bodie, to the Rochester Americans in exchange for forward Dan Catenacci. The Wolf Pack also recalled defenseman Spiro Goulakos from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Lastly, the New York Rangers assigned rookie forward Pavel Buchnevich to the Wolf Pack.
Springfield, meanwhile, began its trade deadline week with the recall of forward Rihards Bukarts from the ECHL's Manchester Monarchs. Bukarts had scored 15 goals in 28 games with Manchester.
The Thunderbirds have had the Wolf Pack's number of late, winning each of the last two meetings, each in the last two weekends. Mike McKenna picked up AHL victories number 200 and 201, making 56 saves on 58 shots in the two games. He recorded his first shutout as a Thunderbird on Saturday with a 32-save performance at the MassMutual Center. That shutout wound up being McKenna's curtain call in Springfield, as the Thunderbirds goalie was moved to the Tampa Bay Lightning organization in exchange for goaltender Adam Wilcox, who was teammates collegiately at the University of Minnesota with Thunderbirds forward Kyle Rau.
The Thunderbirds saw their five-game winning streak come to an end in a 3-0 shutout defeat in Providence on Sunday, but the Thunderbirds have continued to be a rock solid defensive team in the last six games, allowing just 11 goals in a stretch that has seen Springfield go 5-1-0-0. Reto Berra set a new Thunderbirds franchise record with a 39-save effort against a Bruins team that took 27 shots before finally opening the scoring late in the second period.
After going the first 49 games of the regular season with only 10 games of four or more goals, the Thunderbirds have scored four or more on three occasions since Feb. 17.
The Thunderbirds get to have a lighter weekend of games following the Wednesday night tangle in Hartford. Springfield plays host to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for a second straight Friday night, this time on Bruce Landon Legacy Night on March 3. Then the Thunderbirds hit the road for their final regular season contest against the Hershey Bears from the Giant Center on Sunday.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 Ticket Memberships 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.