Thunderbirds Win Season Series vs. PenguinsMar 31, 2017
Springfield, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds (28-30-9-2) scored the game's first three goals and rode the momentum home to the tune of a 3-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (46-19-3-0) on Friday at the MassMutual Center in front of 5,236 fans on Pucks N' Paws night.
The Thunderbirds and Penguins could not find any goals in a tame first ten minutes. However, the tide changed with a hard hit in center by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie Zach Aston-Reese on Springfield's Tim Bozon. Immediately, MacKenzie Weegar jumped to the aid of his teammate and dropped the gloves with the rookie.
Although the Penguins got a power play as a result, they could not beat Sam Brittain, who was locked in from the word "go." As the two teams entered the midpoint of regulation still scoreless, it was the Thunderbirds who finally broke the ice to gain an edge. In a season series where the team scoring the first goal won every game, Matt MacKenzie took a drop pass from Matt Leitner, skated to the center point, and beat the Penguins' Tristan Jarry with a seeing-eye wrister to give Springfield a 1-0 lead at 10:18 of the second.
The game went into the third period with the 1-0 score in tact despite the Thunderbirds getting a major power play when Josh Archibald was whistled for charging and a game misconduct at 13:58 of the middle period.
Even though they did not score on the major, Springfield would find power play success early in the third on a fluky, fortuitous bounce. Jayce Hawryluk wound the puck in from center. With Jarry departing his net, Anthony Greco streaked to the slot, where the puck took a hard right turn off the end glass to him. Greco pounced for his 14th goal of the season 55 seconds into the final period.
With a 2-0 lead and some insurance, the Thunderbirds went back for more when Kyle Rau beat Jarry with a slot slapper at 12:19. While the Penguins would break up Brittain's shutout at 15:55 on a Ryan Haggerty goal, it did not take away from a splendid performance for the University of Denver alumnus, who made 27 stops for his third win as a Thunderbird.
The Thunderbirds are back on MassMutual Center for Boomer's Bash/Bobblehead Night on Saturday, April 1. Limited quantities of Boomer Bobbleheads are available, compliments of Stop & Shop. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 Ticket Memberships start as low as $12 per game and feature the most exclusive benefits, including a commemorative jersey and brand new Collectors Mug. For more information, fans may call the Thunderbirds ticket office at (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.