Providence, RI- The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-22-7-2) will hope the road can provide a bounce back following two separate one-goal losses on Friday and Saturday. They visit the Providence Bruins (27-13-5-4) for the second time already in February for a 3:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
Springfield's latest home ice tale featured a rapid fire start on Saturday night from the Utica Comets, who wound up breaking a six-game losing streak in a 2-1 escape.
The Thunderbirds experienced a real-life version of a nightmare in the first 90 seconds of play, beginning when Brendan Gaunce moved into the slot, picked up a pass from Carter Bancks, and wristed a missile past Mike McKenna at 1:20 to give the Comets the 1-0 lead.
As if a goal against in the first 1:20 was not bad enough, things got worse for Springfield, as Curtis Valk moved in alone just eight seconds later and beat McKenna to the backhand for the second Utica goal in short order.
The Thunderbirds managed only three shots on goal in the trying first period, but Springfield managed to make one of those tries count on a power play with less than three minutes on the first stanza clock. On a rush with the man advantage, with no screen and no deflection, Ian McCoshen fired a half slapper that eluded Richard Bachman through the five-hole. The defenseman’s first goal in three months got the home team back to a manageable 2-1 margin.
Following his flub in the first period, Bachman was the difference for the Comets, as he made all 29 stops he needed to make in the final 40 minutes as Springfield atoned for their lackluster start to the game. At the other end, McKenna stabilized things for the Thunderbirds in making 21 of 23 saves on the night. It was the second straight 2-1 loss on home ice for McKenna, who also fell by the same margin to the Toronto Marlies on Jan. 22.
Springfield’s best chance to tie the score in the final period came on an odd-man rush with both Paul Thompson and Denis Malgin getting denied by Bachman from close range.
The Thunderbirds and Bruins will meet once more this month on Feb. 26 for another Sunday matinee at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Following this latest 3-in-3, the Thunderbirds return home to rematch the Comets on Friday, Feb. 17 for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will then march into Springfield on Saturday, Feb. 18 for another 7:05 p.m. ET start.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.