T-Birds Take to Pennsylvania for Two GamesNov 8, 2018
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (7-1-0-2) will look to establish a new win streak on Friday night when they pay a visit to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (6-3-1-1) at the PPL Center for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. Springfield will then travel to Hershey for a matchup with the Hershey Bears (6-7-0-1) on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
The Thunderbirds saw their six-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday in a 5-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. A three-goal second period for the Sound Tigers did in the T-Birds, who got goals on the power play from Dryden Hunt and Joel Lowry in defeat. Lowry has now recorded points in seven straight games, the second-longest streak in Thunderbirds history.
Springfield will receive one important reinforcement back on their roster this weekend, as reigning AHL All-Star Classic goalie Michael Hutchinson rejoined the team on a loan from the Florida Panthers earlier this week. In his first start as a Thunderbird, Hutchinson made a remarkable 44 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss in Wilkes-Barre against the Penguins on Oct. 6.
The Phantoms, meanwhile, have turned things around since falling to the Thunderbirds, 7-0, on Oct. 12. Lehigh Valley has scored at least three goals in eight of their last nine games since Sam Montembeault blanked the Phantoms with 35 stops in the clubs' first meeting.
Lehigh Valley got the better of the T-Birds in the rematch on Oct. 13 in Springfield, scoring twice in the final minutes to force overtime before taking a 5-4 shootout decision. That was one of just two losses for Springfield in its first nine games of the season.
The Springfield power play has continued to click at a high rate, scoring a league-best 16 power play goals through 10 games played. Included in those totals was a team-record five man advantage goals on Oct. 12, which featured two by Ludwig Bystrom. The Thunderbirds' power play success rate of 29.1% makes them the top unit in the Eastern Conference.
Hershey began its regular season having lost five straight games, but the Bears have bounced back to go 6-2-0-1 in their last nine contests. Former Thunderbird Mike Sgarbossa is one of three Bears tied for the team lead in scoring with eight points in the early season, while third-year goaltender Vitek Vanecek has been very strong in between the pipes with a 2.41 goals against average in seven games.
Springfield enters the two-game weekend with 16 points, four behind the first-place and AHL-leading Charlotte Checkers. Their .800 points percentage places them third in the AHL behind Charlotte and San Jose. After completing the road trip in Pennsylvania, the Thunderbirds return home for three games in four nights next week, including the T-Birds 101 School Day Game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 10:35 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Springfield will then host the Rochester Americans at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16. "The Voice" champion and Longmeadow native Brynn Cartelli will kick off the night with a rendition of the national anthem. Then on Saturday, Nov. 17, the T-Birds host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the first-ever Harry Potter Night in Springfield. Puck drop will be at 7:05 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.