T-Birds Stunned by Checkers in OT DefeatDec 8, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (12-7-2-2) recorded four goals against the first place Charlotte Checkers (19-6-1-0) but succumbed to a late Charlotte comeback in a 5-4 overtime defeat on Saturday Night at MassMutual Center.
At the end of the first period, the game was scoreless, but the Thunderbirds ended the period leading the Checkers in shots on goal by a tally of 12-7. Both teams were unsuccessful on a pair of power play chances, and the T-Birds killed off parts of a 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 for the Checkers.
At the 4:19 mark in the second period, Jake Horton took advantage of a misplay behind the net by Jake Bean and broke the scoreless tie on a tap-in backhand to Darling’s left. Horton’s goal was unassisted and was his fifth of the season, bringing about the teddy bears on Teddy Bear Toss night.
After Ludwig Bystrom was called for hooking at 5:10, with 38 seconds left on the power play, Nick Schilkey took a pass by Martin Necas and, after initially fumbling the puck, beat Hutchinson glove side from between the faceoff circles.
At the 18:07 mark in the second period and operating on a man advantage, Jayce Hawryluk found Anthony Greco in between the circles, and Greco pushed the puck home from Charlotte’s doorstep for his 10th of the season. Jacob MacDonald picked up a secondary helper on the play.
Going into the third period, Charlotte head coach Mike Vellucci replaced Darling in favor of Jeremy Helvig. Darling was not seen on the Checkers bench.
Just over six minutes into the third period, and 1:05 after Sebastian Repo and Michael Cajkovsky were both called for offsetting roughing minor penalties, Schilkey took a one-timer feed by Greg McKegg and slapped it home from the left circle, tying the game, 2-2. The tally was Schilkey’s second of the game.
Almost five minutes later, the T-Birds struck back for the second time on the power play. This time Harry Zolnierczyk took a feed from MacDonald and wristed it off the body of Helvig and into the net, giving Springfield a 3-2 lead past the midpoint of the third. Greco picked up a secondary assist on the play for his second point of the night.
At the 17:52 mark in the final period of play and with Charlotte operating on a 6-on-4 power play after pulling Helvig in favor of an extra attacker, Greco picked up a loose puck in the corner and dumped it all the way down and into the empty net to make it 4-2.
With under a minute to play and Helvig pulled, the Checkers scored unanswered goals just 24 seconds apart to stun the MassMutual Center. Jake Bean made it 4-3 with a one-timer from the center point, and Andrew Poturalski wristed one home from a similar spot at the 19:04 and 19:28 marks respectively to tie it at 4-4.
At the 3:29 point in overtime, after the Thunderbirds failed to get a shot on an odd-man rush, Trevor Carrick took a spinning pass from Martin Necas and wristed it home on a breakaway to give Charlotte a 5-4 overtime win.
The Thunderbirds finish a 3-in-3 weekend with a Sunday Funday matchup against the Binghamton Devils. Puck drop on Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about 2018-19 Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including the lowest prices for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.