T-Birds Steal Point Late, But Fall in OTMar 1, 2017
Hartford, CT- The Springfield Thunderbirds (22-24-8-2) erased a 3-1 third period deficit, but could not finish the comeback try in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack (21-30-3-2) at the XL Center on Wednesday.
Neither team wasted time going to the offensive in the opening period despite a rash of moves on trade deadline day for both clubs. Red-hot Dryden Hunt opened the scoring for Springfield, taking a back pass from Jared McCann and gathering his own rebound off the pad of Brandon Halverson to give Springfield the 1-0 lead at 4:51 of the period.
However, much like the two teams' last matchup in Hartford, the Wolf Pack would answer quickly. Much like Hunt at the other end, Matt Carey raced to reach a rebound off the right pad of Reto Berra before stashing a turnaround wrist shot through the goalie's arm on the short side. The goal came at 5:24, just 33 seconds after Hunt's opening goal, to tie the game, 1-1.
Berra would be the far busier of the two goalies after Carey's goal, as the Wolf Pack pushed the envelope in the opening frame, to the tune of 14 shots on net, but the Springfield goalie had 13 answers. It would be Berra's second straight busy night after he stopped a franchise record 39 pucks on Sunday in Providence.
Berra's busy night continued in the second, as Hartford unloaded 11 more shots on the Springfield net, but the big netminder was up to the challenge each time. His best save of the period came on a pair of sprawling pad saves: one off of Tanner Glass on a shorthanded bid for the Pack, and the other off of Dan Catenacci, who attempted to wrap one past Berra from the blue paint on a rebound.
The Thunderbirds' penalty killers were also pressed into action on two occasions, but Hartford never could generate an attacking presence, falling to 0-for-3 over the course of the first two periods with the man advantage.
Hartford put its foot on the accelerator early in the third and appeared to have pulled away when Catenacci and Pavel Buchnevich each scored in the first 5:13 of the period to put the Wolf Pack ahead 3-1.
However, the Thunderbirds showed their valor as Jayce Hawryluk beat Halverson on a left wing wrister at 7:00 to bring it to 3-2. In the game's final minute, Springfield got its sixth different extra attacker goal this season, as Chase Balisy redirected a MacKenzie Weegar centering pass into the top shelf with less than 20 seconds to play to force overtime in a 3-3 game.
In the extra period, though, Balisy would be whistled for a trip on Buchnevich, who in turn scored on the ensuing 4-on-3 with less than 20 seconds left in overtime to hand Hartford its second consecutive win.
Following tonight's matchup in Hartford, Springfield plays host to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for a second straight Friday night, this time on Bruce Landon Legacy Night on March 3. Then the Thunderbirds hit the road for their final regular season contest against the Hershey Bears from the Giant Center on Sunday.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey and brand new Collectors Mug. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.