Tambellini's Hat Trick Trips Up Thunderbirds

Feb 10, 2017

Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-21-7-2) saw a late penalty come back to hurt them in a 3-2 loss on Friday to the Hartford Wolf Pack (18-25-3-2) before a crowd of 6,275 at the MassMutual Center.

Perhaps inspired by the Nature Boy, the Thunderbirds showed their fight in the opening five minutes in a period that saw them double up Hartford on shots by a 12-6 margin.

With his center making a change, Jayce Hawryluk held onto the puck behind the net along the end boards. As he moved into the left wing corner, the Thunderbirds’ youngest player, Denis Malgin streaked into the slot area, took a perfect feed from Hawryluk and sneaked a laser shot over the stick of Wolf Pack goaltender Brandon Halverson at 4:55 to give Springfield a 1-0 lead.

The Wolf Pack were having trouble generating offense in 5-on-5 play, but in just 1:02, a pair of Thunderbirds penalties set up a top-10 Wolf Pack power play with a 5-on-3 advantage. At 13:10 of the first, Adam Tambellini uncorked a one-timer past Reto Berra to bring Hartford back to even, 1-1. It was Hartford’s first power play goal in eight chances this season against their division rivals.

From there, Halverson was able to fend off a handful more Springfield chances, flashing his glove hand on a point blank rebound chance by Eric Robinson, among others. 

The goaltenders played a duel of sorts in the second period, with both teams struggling to create offense 5-on-5. Each netminder needed to be at his best on breakaways from defensemen, however. First, Matt MacKenzie jumped out of the penalty box to move in on Halverson unimpeded. The 20-year-old goaltender squeezed the try to keep the game tied.

Moments later at the other end, Berra made a sliding save look routine as Hartford defenseman Spiro Goulakos stripped Malgin and created a breakaway down the left side.

With the shot advantage firmly on their side, the Thunderbirds kept the Wolf Pack from even registering an attempt on goal in the first half of the final period. Keeping the offensive pressure high, MacKenzie Weegar then found Jayce Hawryluk in the left circle on a cross-ice pass, and the 21-year-old rookie outwaited a sliding Halverson to bury the go-ahead goal with less than eight minutes to play, 2-1.

On this night, though, the Thunderbirds’ demons came back to haunt them, as a minor penalty put Springfield shorthanded with less than five minutes to play. On the ensuing Hartford power play, Tambellini took a Nicklas Jensen feed and beat Berra on the glove side through a screen to tie the game, 2-2, with just 4:08 to play.

Tambellini’s night was far from over. Just 34 seconds after he tied the game, he drove the center lane and deflected a Chris Brown pass into the top shelf over Berra’s glove hand for the game-winning, hat trick goal in the 3-2 final.

Halverson’s 32 saves provided his club enough time to complete the comeback in regulation. Hartford has now won three of its last four games.

The Thunderbirds will next welcome the Utica Comets to the MassMutual Center on Saturday for the first of two matchups in seven nights against a Utica club fighting for playoff position in the AHL's North Division. 

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.

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