T-Birds Respond in Big Way, Dispatching Wolf PackNov 26, 2017
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (8-13-1-0) unleashed an offensive charge on the Hartford Wolf Pack (7-11-2-1) on Sunday in a 4-2 win at the MassMutual Center.
Hartford goaltender Alex Georgiev would steal the show early on Sunday afternoon with a remarkable save to keep the game scoreless. As the Thunderbirds rolled a puck into the offensive zone behind the net, the biscuit bounced back out in front of the goal. Georgiev scrambled back to the front of his net and on a dive was able to deny Francois Beauchemin with a spectacular sprawling save.
Not surprisingly, special teams again became a key ingredient in the matinee matchup, with Springfield killing two Wolf Pack power plays in the first, while Hartford did the same against the Thunderbirds' torrid home-ice power play.
After Springfield killed the second Wolf Pack advantage, it looked like the T-Birds would have another golden opportunity to score the first tally, with Denis Malgin and Beauchemin moving in on a 2-on-0 rush after a busted coverage in center with Beauchemin exiting the penalty bench. This time, positioning himself in the right circle, Beauchemin one timed a pass from Malgin that missed the target.
At the other end, Harri Sateri was stable in net for Springfield, denying all seven Wolf Pack shots that came his way through 20 minutes, including a strong left pad save off Vinni Lettieri, who entered the zone unimpeded down the right side.
The second period finally saw the offenses break through, and perhaps it was only fitting that Beauchemin earned a reward with the game's first goal at 2:50. Jayce Hawryluk deflected the puck off his body and off Georgiev in front off the net, and Beauchemin scooped home the rebound to make it 1-0.
The lead would be short lived, as Hartford used a power play to earn momentum. Although they did not score on the power play itself, moments later, Scott Kosmachuk swatted a rebound off a fallen Sateri at the far post to tie the game, 1-1 at 7:38.
With the two teams' top-10 ranked power plays held in check through most of the first two periods, the Thunderbirds decided it was time to change that after Hawryluk drew a minor penalty with just 2:09 left in the second.
On the ensuing man advantage, Hawryluk again found himself in the middle of the action, stationing himself at the edge of the crease, and after accepting a pass from Malgin, he slid a blind backhand feed to the right wing side, where Blaine Byron buried the one-time bid to push the T-Birds to the lead, 2-1 at 19:02.
Thomas Schemitsch again found his way to the goal column early in the third, as the defenseman sneaked to the right wing circle and launched a half-slapper over the shoulder of Georgiev at 4:46 to make it a 3-1 score.
Hartford got it back to within a goal at 13:28 as Ryan Gropp took a centering feed from Adam Chapie and beat Sateri at 13:28 to make it a 3-2 game.
With the game's final minutes flying by and the Wolf Pack pressing for the equalizer, the Thunderbirds put the game away as Malgin recorded his second point of the night on an empty netter at 18:21 off an assist by Maxim Mamin.
Springfield and Hartford will get to know each other well this week, as the two clubs will rematch on Saturday in Hartford at the XL Center for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop. Following the trip to the Wolf Pack's home rink, the Thunderbirds will make their first-ever trip Charlotte to battle with the Checkers on Friday, Dec. 1 at 7:15 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1:00 p.m. at the Bojangles Coliseum.
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.