Jan 10, 2018
Hershey, PA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (14-21-1-1) begin a three-game, five-night road swing on Wednesday at the Giant Center as they face off against the Hershey Bears (17-16-1-3) in a 7:00 p.m. matchup.
In winning their last two games, the Bears put together their first set of consecutive wins since Dec. 2-3, and Hershey has picked up points in four straight contests (3-0-1-0). Goaltender Vitek Vanecek was stellar in a 3-0 Hershey win over the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday, stopping all 29 shots he faced in the shutout victory. Vanecek has shut out the Thunderbirds in his past, as he made 22 stops in a 4-0 win on Dec. 18, 2016.
On the Springfield side, the Thunderbirds scuffled in their first weekend series of 2018, falling 4-2 and 6-2 on consecutive nights at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and at home against Providence, respectively. The Springfield power play, which at one time was ranked in the top-10 in the AHL, has endured a lengthy struggle, going just 1-for-36 in the last eight games.
Goaltender Sam Montembeault has started each of the last nine games, but was pulled after allowing three goals on seven shots last Saturday against the Bruins. In relief, Evan Cowley stopped 28 of 31 against a potent Bruins attack.
The Bears have won two of three games to start this year's season series and now sits at 8-1-0-0 all time against the Thunderbirds. Springfield ended their slide against the Bears with a 2-1 win at the Giant Center on Nov. 22. Hershey's latest win against Springfield came at the MassMutual Center on Dec. 29 in a 4-2 triumph.
With their seven points in the standings over their last four games, the Bears have climbed to 38 points in the Atlantic Division, five back of Charlotte for the final playoff spot. Springfield is in eighth with 30 points on the season.
Springfield will look for continued contributions from Jayce Hawryluk, who enters Hershey riding a four-game point streak (2g, 4a). Dryden Hunt also has points in two straight contests.
The Thunderbirds' road trip continues on Friday in a matchup with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center at 7:05 p.m. before continuing to Providence on Sunday for a tangle with the Bruins.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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