Wolf Pack Down T-Birds Late in See-Saw AffairApr 7, 2017
Hartford, CT- The Springfield Thunderbirds (29-32-9-2) dropped another back-and-forth, one-goal affair, the club's 39th one-goal game of the season, in a 4-3 loss on Friday to the Hartford Wolf Pack (24-41-4-2) at the XL Center.
Both teams came out firing in the opening minutes less than a month after Springfield unleashed a 45-shot gallery at the Hartford goal in a 5-2 win on March 11 in Springfield. Goaltenders Sam Brittain and Chris Nell were both tested early and often as both teams created swarms of turnovers in the middle of the ice.
The game's first goal was as innocent a chance as any in the opening frame. At the 5:19 mark, Eddie Wittchow found a shooting lane from the left point, and the big man's wrister eluded teammates Kyle Rau and Paul Thompson en route to the net behind Nell. Anthony Greco extended his point streak to four games with the only helper on Wittchow's second goal of the season.
The lead would not last three full minutes, though, and the Wolf Pack jumped on a turnover in the neutral zone, with Chris Brown beating Brittain between the legs to tie the score at 7:59 of the first period.
Springfield allowed one breakaway goal, but they would get one right back for themselves at the 13:12 mark. When John Gilmour mishandled a pass at the right point, Tim Bozon jumped to the loose puck and roared in all alone, beating Nell to the five-hole to restore Springfield's lead, 2-1.
From there, Brittain closed down some late period chances for the Pack, including a sliding stop to his right on Phil McRae on a beautiful look in front from Vinni Lettieri.
The second period brought more offensive exploits from the clubs, but this time it was the Wolf Pack that jumped to the advantage. First, on a power play one-time rocket, Marek Hrivik beat Brittain at 1:51 of the period off a feed from rookie defenseman Vince Pedrie.
Pedrie would set up the go-ahead goal for Hartford shortly after a Wolf Pack power play ended, finding Hrivik in center. On a 2-on-1 rush, Hrivik found Matt Carey crashing down the back post to beat Brittain on a one-time punch shot at 8:11 to give Hartford its first lead, 3-2.
That lead would only last 2:02 though. After Jayce Hawryluk got tied up with Tommy Hughes along the wall, the puck made its way behind the net, where Chase Balisy alertly jumped on it and sneaked a shot through Nell's pads from point blank range at 10:13.
Nell and Brittain once again locked down the fort in the second half of the period, with Nell making one of his best stops on a rebound that sat right in front for Matt Buckles. The score stayed even, 3-3, through 40 minutes.
A tightly-checked third period nearly reached its conclusion without any offensive heroics, but with less than 2:30 to play, the Wolf Pack snatched victory away from Springfield. After keeping the puck in at the left point, Nicklas Jensen danced around the Springfield defense and blasted a perfect wrist shot through Brittain at 17:39 for his 29th of the season the game's deciding goal.
Brittain finished his night with 22 saves, while Nell picked up his first pro victory with a 27-save effort. Springfield completes its road schedule on Saturday with a 7:05 p.m. ET matchup in Allentown against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Interested in becoming a part of the next era of professional hockey in Springfield? Earn your wings with Springfield Thunderbirds 2017-18 Ticket Memberships, which 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.