T-Birds Run Out of Comeback Juice in 3rd in Hartford

Feb 5, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (26-21-2-0) fought back four times to tie scores, but could not escape with a victory in Hartford on Wednesday, falling 7-4 to the Wolf Pack (27-11-4-5) inside the XL Center.


The first period figured to be as opposite from Saturday’s 2-0 final as one could imagine. The Wolf Pack finally got one past Ryan Bednard just 2:45 into the period when Patrick Newell fired a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle that squeaked through the T-Birds’ rookie netminder to make it 1-0 Wolf Pack.


As would become a theme in the period, though, Springfield would claw back into a tie. After going unsuccessful on a power play and then killing a penalty of their own, the T-Birds cracked onto the scoresheet at 10:05 when Aleksi Saarela gathered some space on the right wing before whipping a pass into the crease for Daniel Audette to tap over the line, tying the score, 1-1.


However, the T-Birds would not be the only team to answer in a hurry as Tim Gettinger intercepted a pass in the high slot of the Springfield zone and wristed a try behind Bednard at 12:47 to up the Hartford lead to 2-1.


Only 14 seconds would pass this time before Matt Mangene wristed a right point shot in off the shoulder of Wolf Pack goalie Adam Huska for his first goal of the season and a 2-2 tie.


One more time, though, Hartford would not let Springfield vault to the lead, and Vinni Lettieri used a screen in front of Bednard from the left circle to snap home his 20th goal of the season at 16:27 to round out the wild five-goal opening period with Hartford in front, 3-2.


For the first time this season, Geordie Kinnear elected to make an in-game goaltending switch, as Philippe Desrosiers stepped in, and right away, he made a sparkling save in the slot area off of a point blank try from Joey Keane. Springfield rewarded their netminder’s heroics with a game-tying goal again as Audette pulled the puck off the left corner wall, then dangled around a Hartford defender before shuffling a backhander up over the shoulder of Huska at 10:42, tying the game, 3-3.


Yet again, the Wolf Pack got another answer as Steven Fogarty beat a defender to the front of the net, took a feed from Vitali Kravtsov, and went to his backhand to beat Desrosiers under the crossbar at 12:13 to give Hartford its latest lead, 4-3.


With the period nearing its end, Ethan Prow got Springfield back even for a fourth time when he took an innocent-looking slap shot that clanged off the inside of the post behind Huska at 18:42, making it 4-4.


The T-Birds, however, could not hold the tie score into the intermission, and with a 2-on-1 in the dying seconds of the period, Newell picked up a Nick Jones shot off the pad of Desrosiers and pumped home his second goal of the night at 19:40 to get the Wolf Pack its fifth lead of the night, 5-4 into the second intermission break.


Springfield came out with plenty of pressure in the third period, but Huska shook off his tough 40 minutes by turning in 11 saves on 11 T-Birds shots in the third period. Lettieri would get an insurance marker at long last with less than four minutes to play, and Nick Jones added an empty-netter in the dying seconds.


The T-Birds continue this important five-game road trip with a doubleheader of games in Pennsylvania on Friday against Lehigh Valley (7:05 p.m.) and Saturday against Hershey (7:00 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.


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