Thunderbirds Play Host to Struggling BearsJan 28, 2017
Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (16-18-6-2) will look to snap a seven-game home losing streak as they welcome the Hershey Bears (20-13-7-3) to the MassMutual Center on Saturday night for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop. The Bears have won each of the prior four matchups with the Thunderbirds this season, with two wins in each venue.
The Thunderbirds nearly ended their home losing slide on Friday night in the most improbable fashion. Trailing 4-0 to the Syracuse Crunch with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, Springfield came storming back, scoring twice on a pair of Crunch penalties on tallies from Jayce Hawryluk andKyle Rau.
Still needing two more strikes, the Thunderbirds pulled goaltender Reto Berra with less than two minutes to play, and with a 6-on-5 advantage, Brody Sutter jammed home a rebound on the doorstep in front of Adam Wilcox to make it a 4-3 score.
Springfield ultimately would run out of racetrack, as a minor penalty to MacKenzie Weegar in the game's final 20 seconds put an end to the Thunderbirds' comeback try.
The Bears arrive in Springfield having suffered through one of the worst stretches of their season in recent weeks. Hershey has lost 10 of its last 12 games overall, resulting in a 2-6-2-1 record in the month of January. The Bears have now slipped out of the fourth spot in the Atlantic Division, having been overtaken by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Springfield, despite having opportunities to gain ground in the standings, still sits 10 points back of both Hershey and Bridgeport, who each hold 50 points on the season.
The Bears, much like the Thunderbirds, have been decimated with injuries. Defenseman Madison Bowey and forwards Riley Barber and Dustin Gazley have each missed considerable time, while fellow defenseman Tyler Lewington has missed each of the last three contests for Hershey.
In eight of Hershey's last nine games, the Bears' defense has allowed at least four goals, including five games of five or more goals against. Springfield, however, has continued to score at the slowest rate of any team in the Eastern Conference, with just 104 strikes in 42 games.
Tonight marks the final game for both teams before the AHL All-Star Classic festivities in Allentown, Pa. on Sunday and Monday. Weegar will represent the Thunderbirds at the event.
The Thunderbirds take the beginning portion of next week off before returning to game action on Friday, Feb. 3 against the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
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.