Dec 30, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. - For a second straight night, the Springfield Thunderbirds (15-11-4-3) succumbed to overtime defeat in a wild 6-5 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack (15-15-2-2) at the XL Center on Sunday afternoon.


Springfield goaltender Sam Montembeault finished with 24 saves in the losing effort.


The Thunderbirds collected the game’s first tally at the 6:12 mark when Joel Lowry redirected a slapshot from the point by Ian McCoshen past Wolf Pack goaltender Marek Mazanec on the glove side. Jake Horton was credited with a secondary assist on the tally.


Hartford got the goal back 1:40 later when John Gilmour slapped the puck home on a power play, one-time centering feed by Peter Holland at the center point at 7:52.


The T-Birds took a 2-1 lead 10 minutes later at the 16:08 mark when Ryan Horvat hit Anthony Greco in stride on a lob pass, which Greco wristed past Mazanec short side for his team-leading 15th goal of the season.


Hartford’s Gabriel Fontaine, though, got the Wolf Pack back even again when he wristed one home from short range courtesy of a centering feed by Chris Bigras, tying the score at 2-2 with less than 90 seconds on the first period clock. 


The Wolf Pack used their power play to vault to the lead less than a minute later when Ville Meskanen took a perfect feed by Holland and put the puck into a wide open net from Montembeault’s left. Gilmour was credited with the secondary assist.


Springfield came into the second period on the power play after O’Gara was assessed a double minor for roughing with 21.5 seconds to play in the second period.


Only 1:32 into the middle period, after Dryden Hunt took an initial shot on Mazanec, the puck trickled to the left of the Hartford netminder. Blaine Byron scooped up the rebound and tapped it into the yawning net, tying the score at 3-3.


12 minutes later at the 13:53 mark, the T-Birds took the lead again when Sebastian Repo jumped on a loose puck and tapped it into the back of the net from the blue paint. The power play goal came after the puck hit off Mazanec on a shot by Hunt. Thomas Schemitsch was credited with a secondary helper.


Again, it would take an opponent less than three minutes to get the game back to even terms. Holland found his way to the top of the crease to tap the puck home from point blank range, thanks to a perfect feed by Meskanen at 16:23.


With a 4-4 tie carrying into the third, the offenses did not let up, as Hartford took a 5-4 lead nearly five minutes into the final frame when Fontaine scored his second goal of the game from short range. The left-hander moved to the right side, and from his knee, center a backhander off the foot of a Springfield defender to make it 5-4 at 4:57.


The T-Birds again weren’t done, though, as Matt Marcinew scooped up a rebound on a Lowry shot from the right wing and tied the score, 5-5, with his first career AHL goal at the 7:19 mark.


After the defenses held the explosive offenses off the board for the next 12 minutes and change, the game headed for the 3-on-3 sudden death period.


32 seconds into overtime, Mangene broke into the offensive zone and was spilled to the ice cutting to the net in the offensive zone, but no penalty was called. Meskanen scooped up the loose puck and fed it to Gilmour, who was all alone on the far boards. GIlmour took the puck himself down the ice and beat Montembeault on a back-hander through the five hole to win the game for the Wolf Pack.


Following the New Year’s break, the T-Birds are back in action on Friday, Jan. 4 when they are back in Hartford for a rematch with the Wolf Pack. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 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.


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