Thunderbirds Haunted by PhantomsOct 27, 2017
Springfield, MA - The Springfield Thunderbirds (1-7-1-0) once again fell behind early and could not recover in a 5-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (7-1-0-1) on Friday night at the MassMutual Center.
After riding an uncharacteristically quiet power play to start the season, the Phantoms scored twice on Wednesday with the advantage, and on Friday, they got off to a similarly fast start. On their first power play of the night, Danick Martel found a rebound at his feet just outside the crease and shoveled a backhander over Sam Montembeault to put Lehigh Valley ahead 1-0 at 9:08. The goal was already Martel's eighth of the season.
The Phantoms would get another one just 55 seconds later at even strength, as Will O'Neill blasted a point shot through traffic and past Montembeault.
With a 2-0 deficit reminiscent of Wednesday's battle, Springfield similarly fought back, as Juho Lammikko and Alex Grenier combined on a face-off win to set up Maxim Mamin in the right circle. The Russian rookie snapped a one-time bid through Dustin Tokarski for his first AHL goal to make it a 2-1 score at 13:28.
It appeared Springfield may tie the score as Dryden Hunt got two wonderful chances, but Tokarski came up with answers, including a stretching glove save as he was getting back to his skates along the left wing side of his crease.
After the teams traded slashing minors late in the period, Springfield's power play had a chance in 4-on-3 to tie the game, but could not connect. Worse yet, the Phantoms were the team to use the special teams to their edge once again. With the Thunderbirds' forwards tired at the end of a shift, Cole Bardreau raced after a loose puck and beat Montembeault on a forehand breakaway to push the Lehigh Valley lead to 3-1 after one period.
Lehigh Valley did not let up on the throttle this time around as they carried the lead to the second. Two nights after blowing a two-goal lead, they instead got the next two tallies in succession, as Oskar Lindblom beat Harri Sateri, who checked into the game for Montembeault to start the period. Just 15 seconds into period two, the lead was extended to 4-1.
Martel then found his way back to the scoresheet shortly after Tokarski made two saves from close range at the other end. On a 2-on-1 from the neutral zone, Nic Aube-Kubel set up Martel for his second of the night and AHL-leading ninth of the season to make it 5-1 at 8:42.
Springfield would try to start a comeback as Juho Lammikko continued his red-hot offensive start, sniping a feed from Grenier from the left circle to make it a 5-2 game at 13:39.
Ironically, the Phantoms would launch more shots in the third than in either of the first two periods, but Sateri settled down, stopping all 12 shots that came his way. At the other end, Tokarski rode the wave to a 26-save win, his first with the Phantoms.
The Thunderbirds next hit the road for the first-ever matchup against the Binghamton Devils on Saturday at the Floyd L. Maines Memorial Auditorium. Puck drop in New York on Saturday is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
Springfield Thunderbirds fans are encouraged to visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com to learn more about Thunderbirds Season Ticket Memberships. Packages start at just $12 per game, and Thunderbirds Full Season Ticket Members receive the most benefits, including a refillable collector’s mug and a commemorative jersey. For more information or to order now, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visitwww.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.