T-BIRDS VISIT WOLF PACK FOR THIRD TIME IN JANUARYJan 23, 2019
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (19-14-6-4) make their third trip to the XL Center in the month of January as they visit the Hartford Wolf Pack (19-19-2-2) for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop on Wednesday night.
Springfield will be looking for a duplicate performance from their last trip to Hartford, in which they came away 3-0 victors on Friday night. Chris Driedger took home first star honors with his 40 saves. Driedger picked up his first shutout as a Thunderbird and his first since Oct. 15, 2016 as a member of the Binghamton Senators.
Driedger was buoyed offensively by a pair of second period goals by Dryden Hunt and Jake Horton. Tomas Jurco added his first as a Thunderbird into an empty net in the closing minutes of the final period. Jurco followed up that strike with another goal and assist on Monday night in Springfield's 4-3 overtime loss to the Laval Rocket.
In spite of the defeat, the Thunderbirds earned a point to maintain their position in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, one point clear of fifth-place Providence for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic.
The Wolf Pack have slipped to the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings even though they have posted a .500 points percentage. Hartford has fallen in two straight games, including the 3-0 shutout loss to Springfield, and the Wolf Pack has been outscored 8-2 in those two contests. The Providence Bruins came away with a 5-2 win on Monday afternoon at the Dunkin' Donuts Center against Hartford, aided by a hat trick by Paul Carey.
The Thunderbirds continue to be anchored by their league-best 56 power play goals and 25.8% success rate on the man advantage. Springfield has 13 more power play goals than the next best AHL team. Springfield will also have their top power play point producer back on their roster as Jayce Hawryluk (5g, 11a on the power play) was returned to Springfield as the Florida Panthers prepare for the All-Star break. In 25 games with Springfield this season, the third-year pro has seven goals and 21 assists to go with a +6 rating and 34 penalty minutes. He has skated in 16 games with Florida since his initial NHL call-up, tallying three goals and two assists.
Springfield also received two bodies on defense from Florida with the loans of Ian McCoshen and Josh Brown. The pair has played in a combined 54 games with the Thunderbirds during the 2018-19 season.
From Hartford, the T-Birds wrap up their pre-All-Star schedule with contests in Syracuse on Friday night and in Providence on Saturday night, with both games dropping the puck at 7 p.m.
The MassMutual Center will then host the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield on Sunday, Jan. 27 with the AHL All-Star Skills Competition at 7:00 p.m. ET. The next night, the AHL All-Star Challenge will pit the four divisions against one another in a 3-on-3, round-robin style tournament. Limited tickets remain for the two-day event and can be purchased online at www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com/AllStar or by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625).