T-Birds Make 1st Visit to Charlotte FridayDec 1, 2017
Charlotte, N.C. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (9-13-1-0) will play their 100th AHL regular season game Friday night, but their first in a new road city, as they visit the Charlotte Checkers (12-8-0-1) for a 7:15 p.m. puck drop at the Bojangles Coliseum.
The game marks the first return trip for Thunderbirds head coach Geordie Kinnear, who served as an assistant coach in Charlotte with the Checkers from 2010-16.
Kinnear's current team has come up with two wins in two tries against the Checkers so far this season, scoring nine goals in two games on Nov. 15 and Nov. 17 respectively. Springfield took home a 5-3 win in the first-ever School Day game in franchise history before Sam Montembeault pitched his first AHL shutout in a 32-save masterpiece on Nov. 17, which Springfield won by a final of 4-0.
Alex Grenier has terrorized the Checkers' goaltending duo of Jeremy Smith and Alex Nedeljkovic, to the tune of six points (1g, 5a) in the two prior meetings between the clubs. Thomas Schemitsch recorded goals in each of the two victories as well for the Thunderbirds.
Since starting the year 2-11-1-0, Springfield has turned the ship around, going 7-2-0-0 in the last nine games and leap-frogging the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Atlantic Division standings.
On the contrary, the Checkers, who started the year buzzing along to a 10-3-0-0 stretch, have scuffled of late since making their first trip to Springfield. Including the back-to-back losses to the T-Birds, Charlotte is just 2-4-0-1 in the last seven games. They will get some help tonight with the return of Lucas Wallmark into the lineup. The Swedish-born forward -- fresh off a 24-goal, 46-point season in 2016-17 -- had 15 points in 12 games before missing nine contests due to injury.
The Thunderbirds have hit their stride thanks in large part to a pair of special teams units that have found consistency. Springfield's penalty kill was masterful in each of the last two victories against the Hartford Wolf Pack, going a perfect 10-for-10 in two games. Meanwhile, the power play has continued to produce at a high level, boasting the AHL's 9th-ranked man advantage (19.3%) and scoring 22 power play tallies, the highest total in the Eastern Conference.
After taking a rest on Saturday, the Thunderbirds and Checkers will meet again on Sunday for a 1:00 p.m. ET rematch. Springfield then returns home for the start of a 3-in-3 against Rochester on Friday, Dec. 8.
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.