T-Birds Try for Five Straight vs. Hartford

Feb 25, 2017

Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (21-23-7-2) will look to extend their franchise-record win streak to five games on Saturday as they host the Hartford Wolf Pack (19-29-3-2) at the MassMutual Center for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop. The night marks Hometown Heroes Night presented by United Bank. 

The suddenly sizzling hot Thunderbirds offense rang in five more goals on Friday in a 5-3 triumph over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Springfield has now scored 16 goals during its four-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 16-8 in the process. 

Springfield raced to victory by virtue of their best 20-minute session of the season, tallying four goals, all in less than 11 minutes of action to close the period. It was kickstarted by Kyle Rau, who had already served two minor penalties through the first 25 minutes of regulation. After Anthony Stolarz made a pair of diving saves with the puck near the goal line, the Thunderbirds dug in, and off a faceoff, Rau picked up a rebound in front off a Dylan McIlrath shot, stashing it home at 8:07 to tie the game, 1-1.

Only 56 seconds would come off the clock before Paul Thompson joined the party, filling the role of trailer on a rush, taking a Denis Malgin cross-ice pass and beating Stolarz over the stick side at 9:03 to put Springfield on top, 2-1.

The Phantoms would not go away at that point, though. After head coach Scott Gordon called a timeout to settle his troops, Radel Fazleev batted an aerial puck in behind Berra at 11:27 to tie the score. In the midst of the goal celebration, the Phantoms drew a roughing minor on the Thunderbirds, and Lehigh Valley took advantage on the ensuing power play.

Just 15 seconds after Fazleev’s goal, Chris Conner filled the slot area, took a feed from Fazleev and beat Berra to the stick side to give the Phantoms a 3-2 lead.

Much like when the score was 1-0, though, the Thunderbirds again showed the resolve to fight back. Dryden Hunt’s long goal scoring drought, which dated back to Dec. 9, came to a close at 16:21 of the second. With a bouncing puck skipping toward Thompson in the left circle, Hunt made it to the front of the net and batted the puck between the legs of Stolarz off Thompson’s backhand try, tying the score, 3-3.

Thompson figured into the game’s deciding goal just 2:14 later, moving over the right wing and snapping another wrister through Stolarz, this time on the stick side, to put the Thunderbirds on top, 4-3. 

Hunt would hit an empty net in the dying moments of the third after Springfield killed off a pair of Lehigh Valley power play attempts to tie the score. Heading into play tonight, the Thunderbirds sit with 51 points in the Atlantic Division standings. The Wolf Pack have lost four of their last five games, including the last three in succession. They have allowed 16 goals in the last three games, and Hartford's defense is the weakest in the AHL, allowing 3.57 goals per game. 

Hartford did, however, come out on top in come-from-behind fashion when the two teams met in Springfield on Feb. 10. Trailing 2-1 in the third period, Adam Tambellini scored twice for the Wolf Pack in the final minutes to complete a hat trick in a 3-2 Hartford victory. Brandon Halverson made 32 saves in the win, but he has lost each of his past two outings, allowing 10 goals on 46 shots.

For Springfield, both Reto Berra and Mike McKenna have been tremendous during the win streak, each capturing two victories, with McKenna's last triumph in Hartford on Feb. 19 being his 200th AHL victory.

Springfield will complete its third consecutive three-game weekend on Sunday with a 3:05 p.m. matinee in Providence against the Bruins. 

Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 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.

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