T-Birds Lose Early 4-0 Lead in Stunning Defeat

Mar 11, 2018
BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Springfield Thunderbirds (28-29-4-1) saw a 4-0 lead evaporate in less than two periods and saw their nine-game point streak come to a close in a 5-4 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (29-23-5-3) on Sunday at the Webster Bank Arena.
The Thunderbirds came out in the opening period with an immediate statement at the hands of a Bridgeport squad that was not prepared for what was coming at them.
Just 2:32 into the festivities, Eddie Wittchow threw a puck in off of the leg pads of Eamon McAdam, then fired a second shot that squeaked through the Sound Tigers goalie, allowing Francois Beauchemin to win a race to the crease, where he had a tap in for his third of the season to open the scoring.
Just 42 seconds later, the Thunderbirds added to it when Dryden Hunt crashed the net and received a perfect centering feed from Sam Kurker to beat McAdam to make it a 2-0 scorea t 3:14.
Bridgeport gave Springfield the first power play of the game moments later as Anthony Greco went crashing into the post at the hands of Kane Lafranchise. On the ensuing power play, just 27 seconds after the penalty, Curtis Valk took a pass in the right wing corner, stepped in front, and banked it off of a Sound Tiger to make it a 3-0 game at 5:08.
This time, it would take the Thunderbirds just 10 seconds to add to their lead. This time, it was Jayce Hawryluk crashing the net, and he tipped home another feed from Wittchow to get his second goal in two games to extend the lead to 4-0 at 5:18.
With that, McAdam’s night came to an early end, and Kristers Gudlevskis entered. With a burr up their saddle, the Sound Tigers showed plenty of gusto in the remaining minutes of the first, and goals by Connor Jones from the left wing at 8:44 and from Casey Bailey on a deflection at 14:07 got Bridgeport back to a 4-2 game after one. Harri Sateri stopped eight of ten shots in the opening frame.
The Sound Tigers were not content with just making it a game again, and in the second period, they dominated the play, outshooting the Thunderbirds by a 16-3 margin. Travis St. Denis one-timed a power play goal over Sateri at 12:12 to bring Sateri’s night to a close after 18 saves on 21 shots.
With Sam Montembeault now in the game, things would not get better for the Thunderbirds as Parker Wotherspoon took a drop pass from Josh Ho-Sang in 4-on-4 play and snapped a wrister into the top shelf to make it a 4-4 tie at 17:22.
Just like the Thunderbirds in the first, the Sound Tigers got a rapid fire goal right after the Wotherspoon tally, as Ryan Bourque took a pass from John Stevens in the right wing corner, and sneaked a wrister through Montembeault’s legs to make it a 5-4 Bridgeport lead just 14 seconds to later to give the Sound Tigers its first lead heading into the third.
Despite the Sound Tigers' passive mentality in the third period, Gudlevskis held the fort and fended off all 14 shots he saw to preserve the improbable win for Bridgeport.
Springfield will try to recover from this stinging defeat when they return home on Friday, March 16 for a 7:05 p.m. matchup with the Syracuse Crunch at the MassMutual Center.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including the lowest prices for the 2019 AHL All Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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