T-Birds Visit Checkers for Pivotal SeriesFeb 8, 2018
CHARLOTTE, N.C.– The Springfield Thunderbirds (22-25-1-1) make their way south for a pivotal two-game series on Friday and Saturday against the Charlotte Checkers (25-20-0-3) inside the Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Puck drop on Friday is set for 7:15 p.m. ET, while Saturday night’s game will begin at 6:00 p.m. ET.
The season series between the two clubs sits at two games apiece after each team came away with sweeps on home ice. Springfield came away with a pair of victories on Nov. 15 and Nov. 17 at the MassMutual Center, including a 4-0 shutout in the second matchup, while the Checkers came away with 4-1 and 4-3 victories on Dec. 1 and Dec. 3.
Charlotte has fallen out of playoff contention as the season nears the 50-game mark, while the Thunderbirds come into play seven points behind the Checkers in the crowded Atlantic Division standings. Springfield’s offense has fallen off in the last two games, scoring just two goals in the last 120 minutes of hockey after they had scored 10 times in the two games previous.
The Checkers boast the Eastern Conference’s highest scoring offense, which has scored 162 times through 48 games, including eight times in the two matchups against the Thunderbirds at the Bojangles’ Coliseum. Valentin Zykov leads the AHL with 23 goals overall, of which 13 have come on the power play. The Checkers also possess the league’s highest scoring rookie, Warren Foegele, who has tallied 21 goals this season.
Rounding out the explosive Charlotte attack, veteran Andrew Miller sits tied for fourth among all AHL skaters with 43 points.
Springfield looks to bounce back after a 3-1 loss on Wednesday to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, which snapped a three-game Thunderbirds winning streak. Dryden Hunt scored the only goal for the T-Birds in period two, while Evan Cowley parlayed another strong performance between the pipes with an AHL career high 37 saves.
The Thunderbirds receive one key reinforcement heading into Charlotte with the return of rookie goaltender Sam Montembeault from the Florida Panthers. The 21-year-old earned his first NHL callup earlier this month as a result of injuries to Panther goalies Roberto Luongo and James Reimer.
The Thunderbirds’ two-game swing in Charlotte precedes a three-in-three situation next weekend for Springfield’s next games, as the Thunderbirds host Lehigh Valley and Providence on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 before turning around and heading to Providence to rematch the Bruins on Feb. 18.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Ticket Memberships. Packages include a wide range of benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.