Rocket Rematch on Pink in the Rink Highlights Busy Week

Mar 7, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -  The Springfield Thunderbirds continue their chase of a second straight playoff berth this week with a trio of home games inside the MassMutual Center.

The week begins with another installment of the I-91 rivalry on Wednesday, March 8 as the Hartford Wolf Pack come to town for the eighth matchup between the clubs this season. Springfield has earned points in six of the first seven meetings, posting a 5-1-0-1 record overall.  

In the last I-91 game on March 3, reigning AHL Player of the Week Joel Hofer and Hartford goalie Louis Domingue went head-to-head in one of the best goaltending duels of the season. Through 60 minutes of regulation and a five-minute overtime, neither netminder allowed anything into their respective nets, and it would take seven rounds of a shootout before Matthew Peca sealed the 1-0 shootout win for the Thunderbirds. Hofer and Domingue both were credited with shutouts, but only Hofer got the victory with 27 saves in regular play plus six more denials in the shootout. It was the 22-year-old goaltender's third shutout of the season and the sixth of his AHL career.

Hofer has been even better than his All-Star numbers against the Wolf Pack in the 2022-23 season. In seven games, he has a 5-1-1 record against his division rivals with a sparkling .942 save percentage and 1.81 goals-against average.

Another tough test awaits the T-Birds on Friday, March 10 as the Providence Bruins visit the Thunderdome for the first time since Nov. 5 as the teams meet for the eighth time this season. Six of the first seven meetings between the T-Birds and P-Bruins have resulted in one-goal margins of victory. In addition, the road team has won all but two of the matchups this season. Springfield is looking for its first home-ice win against Providence this year. The Bruins enter the week one point behind Hershey for the top spot in the Atlantic Division standings.

Similar to Hofer's dazzling numbers against Hartford, Providence All-Star goalie Brandon Bussi has shown some of his best work against Springfield, winning all three games he has played against the T-Birds with only five goals allowed in that time frame and a .935 save percentage.

The T-Birds did, however, get payback on the Bruins in the last meeting between the teams on Feb. 19, as Mitchell Hoelscher scored twice, including a game-winning breakaway tally in the final period, for a 3-2 Springfield win.

Saturday, March 11 marks a marquee rematch and one of the most special nights of the Thunderbirds season. The Laval Rocket come to town for their only regular-season meeting against Springfield and their first visit since the T-Birds' memorable Game 7 win to clinch the Eastern Conference Championship on June 15, 2022. 

Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau got an ounce of revenge in the clubs' first meeting on Oct. 19, a 2-0 Laval win at Place Bell. In the seven-game playoff series last June, Primeau posted a .935 save percentage and a 2.42 goals-against average. 

Saturday is the 6th Annual Pink in the Rink, which benefits the Rays of Hope Foundation in Western Massachusetts. The ice will be painted pink, while the T-Birds will sport specialty pink jerseys for the evening. After the game, fans are welcome to stay for a postgame jersey auction, where proceeds raised will directly benefit the Rays of Hope. For more information on the Pink in the Rink game, click here!

Thunderbirds fans can reserve their seats for upcoming games by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visiting

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