Wolf Pack Tops T-Birds on Sold Out Opening NightOct 14, 2017
Springfield, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (0-3-0-0) succumbed to a three-goal blitz in the third period from the Hartford Wolf Pack (3-1-0-0), and the visitors held on for a 4-3 win on Saturday in front of a sold out crowd of 6,793 at the MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds and Wolf Pack each came out with plenty of energy in the first half of period one, but both teams' energy also resulted in early power play chances for the opposition. The Wolf Pack's first man advantage came up empty after the Thunderbirds took the game's first penalty less than two minutes into the game.
Hartford then got themselves into trouble as John Gilmour and Alexei Bereglazov both took minor penalties less than three minutes apart, but the Thunderbirds power play continued to scuffle, failing on each opportunity and slipping to 1 for its first 16 with the man advantage in their first seven periods of the season.
The Springfield penalty kill would stiffen to keep the game scoreless, but at even strength, the Wolf Pack would get the first goal of the game for a fourth straight time to start their season. On an innocent rush down the left wing, Vinni Lettieri flipped a backhanded shot at Harri Sateri's net, Sateri was handcuffed as the quick-rising attempt found its way into the top shelf to put Hartford on top at 15:05 of the opening period.
Despite not always looking completely comfortable at all times in the first, goaltender Chris Nell turned aside each of Springfield's 15 first period shots. At the other end, Sateri was perfect, save for the Lettieri goal, denying 10 of 11 Hartford tries at the goal.
The Thunderbirds continued to throw pucks at Nell as the second period ensued, and despite being shorthanded twice in the period, Springfield would get back to even terms. After Denis Malgin created some space at the offensive blue line for Jayce Hawryluk, Hawryluk patiently moved to the middle of the ice, faked, waited some more, and then finally ripped a slap shot through Nell to tie the score 7:50 into the middle frame.
Hartford outshot Springfield in the second 13-12, but Sateri kept things locked down for the Thunderbirds through two. However, a late penalty to Curtis Valk in the second gave the Wolf Pack a power play to start the third. Hartford took full advantage just 11 seconds into the period, as Boo Nieves batted a Scott Kosmachuk rebound past Sateri to make it 2-1 Wolf Pack.
Goals from John Gilmour and Filip Chytil followed less than three minutes apart, and the Wolf Pack carried a 4-1 advantage into the final four minutes of the third. The 18-year-old rookie Chytil finished the night with three points.
Springfield would not go away quietly on this night however. Reece Scarlett moved his way down the left wing wall and snapped a wrist shot through Nell at 16:13 to make it a 4-2 game. With a late power play,Juho Lammikko picked up his second point of the night when he scored from a severe angle from the right wing side to bring the Thunderbirds to within one, 4-3, with 15 seconds to go.
After a Hartford icing, the Thunderbirds nearly got a last chance set up, but Valk had a pass roll off his stick, and the Wolf Pack cleared the puck to survive the late scare to improve to 3-1-0-0 in their first four games to start the season. The loss was the first for the Thunderbirds at home in their last six contests dating back to the end of last season.
The Thunderbirds remain on home ice on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. for Kids Opening Day against the Toronto Marlies. Area mascots will make the journey to Springfield to help kick off the festivities when doors open at 2:00 p.m. Friendly’s Sundae Funday packs are available for the game as well. Starting at $44, fans can receive four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, four popcorns, and four Friendly’s Ice Cream Sundae Coupons.
The Thunderbirds will also be back on home ice for the first 3-2-1 Friday on October 20 as they host the Providence Bruins. Rene Rancourt will perform the national anthem as he makes his annual pilgrimage to Springfield, presented by King Ward Coach Lines. Through the end of the first period, Coors Light drafts are just $3, hot dogs are just $2, and sodas are available for $1.
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 visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.