T-Birds Seek Atonement from Season Opener vs. PhantomsNov 5, 2016
Allentown, PA– For the third time this season, the Springfield Thunderbirds (5-2-1-0) will look to pick up a win the night after a loss as they visit the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4-3-1-0) on Saturday night at the PPL Center for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
The Thunderbirds appeared to be poised to win their third consecutive contest on Friday night in Springfield, taking a 2-1 lead into the third period against the Hershey Bears. The 2-1 lead came in the span of just 90 seconds on goals from Chase Balisy on the power play and from Graham Black at even strength. Balisy extended his franchise-record point streak to three games.
Mike McKenna took the loss in the nets despite a phenomenal effort that featured 29 stops on the night for the reigning AHL All-Star Classic participant.
Lehigh Valley enters the second of six matchups against Springfield coming off of a 4-2 victory in Providence over the Bruins less than 24 hours ago. Anthony Stolarz picked up his second consecutive victory between the pipes for Lehigh Valley, denying 27 of 29 Providence shots. The win over the Bruins was the last of a season-long five game road trip for the Phantoms that saw the club go 3-2-0-0.
In the first meeting between the Phantoms and Thunderbirds, Lehigh Valley jumped on the lead courtesy of a goal from Mark Zengerle in the game's first minute and held a 3-1 edge after period one, a deficit the Thunderbirds could not make up in an eventual 4-2 Phantoms win on Oct. 15. Danick Martel scored two goals that evening en route to victory, but the diminutive forward has just one goal since that night while also battling through a knee-on-knee hit that forced him to sit last night.
The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, continue to rest second in the Atlantic Division based on points percentage, the new determining factor of playoff positioning across the AHL. Only the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (6-1-1-0) and the Toronto Marlies (6-1-0-1) have higher points percentages in the Eastern Conference than Geordie Kinnear's Thunderbirds, who have registered at least a point in six of their eight contests.
More impressively, the Thunderbirds sit in that third spot despite scoring the second fewest goals in the conference. The "X-factor" has continued to be the goaltending duo of McKenna and Reto Berra, who have allowed just 18 goals through eight games, tied for the second best total in the East behind only Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Coverage of tonight's tilt from the PPL Center can be heard on NewsRadio 560 WHYN, viewed via subscription online at www.AHLLive.com, and on the iHeartRadio app.
Following a quick turnaround and travel after the game tonight, Springfield returns to the MassMutual center on Sunday afternoon for a 5:05 p.m. puck drop against the Binghamton Senators. The afternoon marks the first Friendly's Sundae Funday of the year. Packages for the day begin at $44 and feature four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, four small popcorns, and four Friendly's Ice Cream Sundae coupons.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625).