Sound Tigers Pull Away in 5-3 Win over T-BirdsDec 15, 2018
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (13-8-2-3) became the latest team to succumb to the red-hot Bridgeport Sound Tigers (16-8-3-1) on Saturday inside the Webster Bank Arena in a 5-3 defeat. It was Bridgeport's 13th straight game on home ice without a regulation loss.
The Thunderbirds and Sound Tigers played an uncharacteristically tame opening period, as neither club took a penalty of any kind in the first 20 minutes of game action. The Sound Tigers, who played Friday night while the T-Birds had the night off, struck first less than five minutes into the contest.
After recording a hat trick in Bridgeport's 4-3 overtime win in Bridgeport on Friday, Michael Dal Colle picked up where left off, taking a pass in the slot from Tanner Fritz and beating Sam Montembeault all alone to the forehand to make it 1-0 Sound Tigers.
Springfield and Bridgeport played the remainder of the period to a near-draw, with the Sound Tigers narrowly outshooting Springfield 8-7. The Thunderbirds were unable to beat Jeremy Smith in the Bridgeport net in the opening frame.
The Thunderbirds power play had three chances to tie the score in the second period, including nearly a full two-minute 5-on-3 advantage, but they were not able break even. Still, the Springfield attack warmed to the task and received a lucky break to bring the game to a 1-1 tie.
At the 15:18 mark of the period, after the third power play of the period came to a close, Matt Mangene, playing as a forward for the first time all season, pushed a centering feed into the slot from the right side. Sound Tigers winger Mike Sislo backchecked to block the pass, but in trying to drop it to a teammate, Sislo cleared the puck through his own goalie's legs and into the twine. That gave Mangene his second of the season and made it a 1-1 tie.
Sislo himself had a chance to put his team on top less than 30 seconds later, but Montembeault came out on the angle to cut down the Sislo shot from the right circle. Nevertheless, Bridgeport pushed through and were able to crack the Thunderbirds defense twice in short order. At 16:25, less than two minutes after Sislo's gaffe, Dal Colle patiently faked a shot around a sliding Paul Thompson and wristed it past Montembeault from the right side for his second goal of the night and fifth in two games to give the Sound Tigers a 2-1 lead.
28 seconds later, rookie Kieffer Bellows showed off his lethal shot on a breakaway down the left wing, roofing it over Montembeault's right shoulder to bring the Bridgeport lead to 3-1 heading into the final period.
The T-Birds never recovered from the second period surge, and Travis St. Denis added one more for good measure to give Bridgeport a 4-1 lead.
Springfield would make the box score slightly more interesting the final two minutes, getting a power play strike from Mangene at 18:30 on a slap pass that careened into the net behind Smith. Bridgeport then fell a man down, but Stephen Gionta cleared a puck all the way into the empty net to make it 5-2. Josh Brown added one more to end a personal goal drought of nearly a full year to make it 5-3 at 19:57.
Springfield returns home quickly to try to salvage a win out of the weekend in a Sunday matinee against the Hershey Bears at 3:05 p.m. at the MassMutual Center. The Thunderbirds will look to pick up their second straight win over Hershey after coming away with a 4-2 victory on Dec. 1 at the Giant 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 Lexus 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.