T-Birds Open Play Saturday; Unveil 2019-20 Opening Night RosterOct 3, 2019
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds will open their 2019-20 season on home ice on Saturday, Oct. 5 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for Opening Night presented by MGM Springfield. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. inside the MassMutual Center, and all fans in attendance will receive a T-Birds rally towel on their seat. Springfield then hosts the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 3:05 p.m. for Kids Opening Day and the first installment of Sunday Funday.
Prior to the action on Saturday, the Thunderbirds will host the Community Bank N.A. Pregame Block Party from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Court Square in Springfield. The party will feature a live music performance by Blood Brothers, as well as food and drink.
The Thunderbirds' roster for Opening Night includes 25 players - 15 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goaltenders:
Forwards (15): #7 Blaine Byron, #9 Dominic Toninato, #11 Adam Rockwood, #14 Joel Lowry, #15 Paul Thompson, #18 Rodrigo Abols, #19 Jake Horton, #20 Aleksi Heponiemi, #21 Jonathan Ang, #22 Matt Marcinew, #25 Anthony Greco, #26 Kevin Roy, #28 Daniel Audette, #74 Owen Tippett, #92 Sebastian Repo
Defensemen (8): #4 Tommy Cross, #6 Ethan Prow, #12 Ian McCoshen, #24 Brady Keeper, #27 Thomas Schemitsch, #34 Jake Massie, #57 Matt Mangene, #77 Riley Stillman
Goalie (2): #30 Philippe Desrosiers, #60 Chris Driedger
Fourteen players on the Opening Night roster skated for the Thunderbirds during the 2018-19 season, while veterans Tommy Cross, Ethan Prow, Dominic Toninato, Kevin Roy, and Daniel Audette would be making their Springfield debuts should they take the ice this weekend.
The incoming crop of rookies and young players includes Panthers 2017 first-round (10th overall) selection Owen Tippett and 2017 second-round (pick Aleksi Heponiemi. Tippett logged five games with the Thunderbirds at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, scoring his first AHL in his first AHL game against the Laval Rocket on Apr. 6, 2018.
Heponiemi is set to make his North American professional debut after he led all teenage players with 46 points in 50 games in the Finnish Elite League (Liiga) for Karpat. Prior to turning pro, Heponiemi starred in the Western Hockey League for the Swift Current Broncos, where he posted 204 points (56 goals, 148 assists) in 129 games.
Geordie Kinnear's T-Birds will look to continue a pattern of home-ice success against the Sound Tigers as they open the season. Dating back to the 2017-18 season, Springfield is 8-1-1-0 against Bridgeport inside the walls of the MassMutual Center. In the last meeting between the clubs, the Thunderbirds exploded for seven tallies in a 7-2 triumph on Apr. 12.
After the two-game set, the Thunderbirds finish their season-opening three-game homestand with the first 3-2-1 Friday of the season on Oct. 11 against the Rochester Americans, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m.
For more ticket information or to become a 2019-20 Springfield Thunderbirds ticket package member, or to purchase single game tickets, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.