Sellout Crowd Witnesses Classic Comeback Win in OTOct 22, 2016
Springfield, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds (3-1-0) opened their home season in front of a sellout crowd of 6,793 fans at the MassMutual Center, and they did not disappoint the patrons, coming from behind to pick up a 5-4 win over the St. John's IceCaps (1-3-1) on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds knocked on the door immediately in the first period, drawing a power play in the game's first minute, but the man-advantage unit could not click. The Thunderbirds ended the night 0-for-2 on power plays, falling to 1-for-22 overall on the season with the man-up.
St. John's, however, would not let early power play chances go to waste, as Charles Hudon deflected a Mark Barberio point shot past Mike McKenna at 6:30 of the first period to give the IceCaps the 1-0 edge.
The Thunderbirds had difficulty establishing offense in the first period, but they were gifted a goal to bring the game back even. IceCaps goaltender Yann Danis came well outside of his crease into the left circle. In attempting to poke the puck ahead, he turned it over right to Thunderbirds forward Dryden Hunt, who turned and fired it into the empty net at 14:52 to deadlock the score.
The tie score would not last long, though, as the IceCaps power play once again proved to be lethal at the 17:02 mark. Sven Andrighetto picked up the puck at the left point and fired a perfect cross-seam pass to Chris Terry, who golfed a one-timer past McKenna for St. John's second power play goal of the evening.
Hudon was not finished, though, and early in the second, he found a treasure sitting in the blue paint after an Andrighetto power play slapper careened off the end glass and bounded into the crease. McKenna could not locate the puck, leading to Hudon's fourth goal of the season just 1:32 into the second.
Trailing by two, the Thunderbirds tried to establish offensive pressure to the tune of 11 second period shots, but Danis atoned for his earlier gaffe to maintain his team's 3-1 advantage into the second intermission.
The third period brought with it a litany of emotions. The Thunderbirds fought back to within a goal asPaul Thompson deflected a Hunt blue-line wrister past Danis at the 7:54 mark to bring the score to 3-2.
Thompson's first goal of the season, though, would be quickly answered on the part of Andrighetto, who beat McKenna with a high-glove snap shot just 41 seconds later to restore St. John's two-goal lead.
However, Springfield refused to go quietly into the night, as Ian McCoshen slapped a rocket past Danis at 12:23 to make it a 4-3 game.
With the MassMutual Center rocking, the Thunderbirds again pumped pucks at Danis and eventually broke through with the tying goal less than 90 seconds later. After Graham Black stripped the puck away from Philip Samuelsson behind the IceCaps net, Thompson punched a shot on goal that squeaked past Danis, laying in the blue paint. Hunt found it first and tapped it home to deadlock the score, 4-4 with 6:10 to go in the third period.
With the score tied, McKenna was tasked with and successful in stopping a mini-breakaway backhander by Markus Eisenschmid in the game's dying minutes.
After neither team found the net to end regulation, overtime was required for the first time in Thunderbirds history. After stealing a puck from Nikita Scherbak, Chase Balisy played keep-away in the right wing circle, allowing MacKenzie Weegar to slide up to the left circle. Balisy found Weegar, who paused before beating Danis to the short side at 1:42 of the extra period to seal the Thunderbirds' third consecutive win.
In celebration of this sell out milestone, the Thunderbirds will be offering up to $5 off the price of a ticket for next Friday and Saturday’s games. This is an opportunity both for those who were unable to make it to Opening Night as well as those who want to come back for more. The Friday, October 28th game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers is $1 Night (with $1 hot dogs, soda, and popcorn) and launches the Pregame Concert Series. Saturday, against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, features T-Birds Trick or Treat for Halloween. Each game is set for a 7:05 p.m. ET puck drop.
Interested in being part of the next era of AHL hockey in Springfield? Springfield Thunderbirds Season 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).