Weegar Ties Score Late, Devils Get Extra Point

Jan 11, 2017
Springfield, MAThe Springfield Thunderbirds (14-13-5-2) squeezed a point out of the Albany Devils (21-15-0-1) thanks to a goal with their goaltender pulled, but could not fire the finishing punch in a 3-2 overtime loss on Wednesday at the MassMutual Center.
It was not your ordinary first matchup between two clubs, as the Thunderbirds and Devils wasted little time racing out of the gates, as the game underwent a fast and furious start. The Thunderbirds were gifted the first man advantage opportunity of the evening, thanks to an Albany bench minor penalty for too many men on the ice. 

A scuffling Springfield power play, though, would not be able to strike, having entered play just 1 of its last 15 on chances. Not easily discouraged, the Thunderbirds made that a minor footnote, as just moments later they took the 1-0 lead. At 6:42 of the period, Brent Regner neatly stepped around a pressuring Blake Pietila at the right point. The captain opened up a shooting lane from the right circle and fired a wrister in the direction of Devils rookie goalie Ken Appleby.

Setting up in front, Kyle Rau obstructed Appleby’s vision, and after looking around for the puck, Appleby was discouraged to discover it sitting in his own goal, resulting in a 1-0 Thunderbirds lead. Regner received credit for his third of the season, with assists to Rau and Tim Bozon. Regner’s goal was his third of the season and first dating back to Nov. 16.

The Devils entered play with a record three games under .500 on the road, but showed quick desperation following the game’s opening goal. Just 5:05 after Regner opened the scoring, former Springfield Falcon Carter Camper answered for Albany, taking advantage of a steal behind Mike McKenna’s net from linemate Ben Thomson. Camper’s goal was just his second on the campaign.

The late stages of the first and duration of the second turned into a parade of minor penalties. The Devils were unable to strike with a carry-over power play early in the second, then came up empty after Springfield went down by two men.

Springfield also could not break the deadlock with two more power play chances in the second, bringing themselves to 0-for-4 through two periods of play. Appleby remained stout in the goal crease for the Devils, as the 21-year-old rookie stopped 23 of 24 through two frames.

Once again, Springfield found itself killing a penalty to start period three, this time a hooking minor toRyan Horvat. Upon the successful kill, the Thunderbirds were hemmed in by a Devils attack that took more shots in the third (18) than they took in the first 40 minutes combined (15). 

The Devils took their first lead of the night at even strength at the 6:34 mark as a result of an odd-man rush. Ryan Kujawinski raced up the ice with Rod Pelley in a 2-on-1. Pelley took a pass from Kujawinski and fired a first shot, which McKenna kicked out. However, the rebound sat in the blue paint for Kujawinski to pounce on the rebound for his first of the year, giving Albany the 2-1 lead.

McKenna, who finished the night with 34 saves, kept his team in it en route to 17 stops in the third period alone. He bought his club time to fight back, and with less than two minutes to play, he scooted to the bench for an extra attacker. Off a face-off win, the Thunderbirds broke back even at 18:19, as MacKenzie Weegar made his way to the front of the net to tap home an Appleby rebound to tie the game, 2-2.

A second straight Wednesday night home game required overtime, but this time, Springfield could not secure the extra point. With a 3-on-1 rush, Anthony Greco and Mike Downing each passed up shot opportunities, and quickly the other way, Ben Sexton beat McKenna with 1:40 to go in overtime to secure Albany’s 3-2 win.

Appleby finished his evening with 33 stops, and the Devils ended their two-game losing skid in the process.

The two teams will reconvene on Friday evening for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop from the Times Union Center in Albany. Springfield is next at home on Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. ET showdown with the Providence Bruins, a team the Thunderbirds split a home-and-home series against on Jan. 6-7. 

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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