T-Birds Stumble Early & Fall in ProvidenceOct 7, 2017
Providence, R.I. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (0-1-0-0) surrendered three goals in the opening period and could not recover in a 5-2 loss to the Providence Bruins (1-0-0-0) on Saturday night at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.
The game began tentatively on both sides, as the Thunderbirds and Bruins traded choppy play for much of the game's first ten minutes. The Thunderbirds got the game's first power play chance when Danton Heinen was whistled for a slash at 8:41, but the Springfield man advantage unit could not jump to the lead.
Just moments after the power play ended, it was Providence instead that took the lead. Peter Cehlarik located the puck along the right wing wall, curled it to the middle of the ice on his backhand, and then snapped a wrister through the legs of Springfield goaltender Harri Sateri to make it 1-0 Bruins at 11:10.
6:31 later, the Bruins were at it again, as former Boston University star Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson found a soft space in the left circle and snapped home a perfect saucer feed from Cehlarik to make it a 2-0 Bruins lead.
From there, the first period got strange. First, it was an unlikely source finding an unlikely goal for Springfield, as Eddie Wittchow surprised Zane McIntyre with a bad angle shot from the left wing wall. With McIntyre cheating to the other side of the net, Wittchow banked it off the goalie's leg to get the Thunderbirds back within one goal at 2-1, just 37 seconds after Forsbacka-Karlsson made it 2-0.
However, the one-goal deficit would be short-lived, as Jordan Szwarz found Ryan Fitzgerald for the Bruins second cross-seam goal of the period, as Fitzgerald sneaked down the right wing boards to snap home a one-timer through the goaltender Sateri in the final minute of the period.
The Thunderbirds were given glimpses of life in the second, including a four-minute power play thanks to a high-sticking double minor against Cehlarik, but the man advantage could not crack the stingy Bruins defense. Springfield's power play sputtered, finishing the night 0-for-7.
After killing the lengthy power play, the Bruins took to the power play themselves to extend their lead, with captain Tommy Cross blasting a one-timer through Sateri at 16:02 of the second to push the lead to 4-1.
Zach Senyshyn would add to the Bruins lead in the first minute of third, making it a 5-1 Bruins lead off a behind-the-net pass from Chris Porter.
Springfield clawed one goal closer on a tally by Henrik Haapala at 2:36 of the third. The Finn's first AHL goal was a beautifully conceived play, as Haapala tipped a pass from Alex Grenier through a defenders legs before snapping a wrister past McIntyre.
Haapala then nearly picked up a second goal of the third period, as he found his way in tight of McIntyre and caught iron with a wrist shot from the left side. After a lengthy video review, the "no-goal" call remained, and Thunderbirds never got closer, despite having 31 shots and seven power plays on the evening.
Following the season opening defeat, the Thunderbirds and Bruins will take part in a grudge match on Friday, Oct. 13 back in Providence before Springfield returns home on Oct. 14.
The Thunderbirds open their 2017-18 home ice schedule on Saturday, Oct. 14 for a matchup with the rival Hartford Wolf Pack. Ticket memberships, including season tickets, are on sale now, starting at just $12 per game. 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.