T-Birds Complete Weekend Sweep, Stun Bruins in OT

Oct 29, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (4-4-0-0) came back from two separate third-period deficits to knock off the Providence Bruins (1-3-1-2) on Sunday at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in a 3-2 overtime victory.

Vadim Zherenko got the starting nod and was up to par in the first, blocking aside all 14 Bruins shot attempts, including a calm breakaway stick save against Justin Brazeau in the opening minutes. Brandon Bussi was not tested much at all in period one, as the second-year Providence goalie only needed to make four saves in the opening 20 minutes.

After a chaotic first period that featured no goals but a combined eight penalty infractions, the Bruins finally broke the 0-0 tie with their fourth power-play goal in three games against Springfield. Reigning AHL All-Rookie Team member Georgii Merkulov netted the tally with a wrister from the right circle at the 7:41 mark of the middle period, his second of the year.

The complexion of the game may have changed just past the midpoint of regulation when Sam Bitten dropped the gloves before a puck drop with Trevor Kuntar, drawing a huge ovation from his teammates on the bench. While Bitten and Kuntar would be given game misconducts for the fight, the shots and chances heavily leaned in Springfield's favor from that point forward.

2:43 into the final period, Bitten's scrap had its first tangible effect when Drew Callin took a feed from Mathias Laferriere in the trapezoid and wrapped it home through Bussi to tie the score, 1-1.

More adversity loomed just nine seconds later, though, as Justin Brazeau scorched a slap shot into the top shelf from the right circle, and Providence had restored its lead, 2-1.

Despite the quick counter by the Bruins, the T-Birds continued to play with confidence, and in a period where they outshot Providence 18-7, Mikhail Abramov found a soft spot in the slot area to deflect a Calle Rosen wrist shot over Bussi to make it a tie game again, 2-2, with 9:34 remaining in regulation.

The T-Birds' penalty kill then had the pressure on its shoulders after Austin Osmanski inadvertently cleared a puck out of play, forcing Springfield into a delay-of-game minor with just over five minutes to play. The PK picked up their teammate, and after nothing was settled in the closing minutes, the two rivals went to overtime, Springfield's first extra-time game of the season.

In the 3-on-3 session, Abramov helped complete the comeback when he peeled off at the right-wing boards, drawing the attention of two defenders. Meanwhile, Dylan Coghlan sneaked down the left side to receive a rink-wide pass and snap a wrister perfectly off the post and in to win it at the 1:38 mark of overtime, 3-2. It was Coghlan's second straight game with a goal.

Zherenko earned his third win in four starts by virtue of his 25 stops, while Bussi turned away 33 in the losing effort for Providence.

The T-Birds embark on yet another 3-in-3 on Friday night as they welcome the Belleville Senators to the MassMutual Center for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.

Fans can reserve their seats to be a part of the Thunderbirds’ hockey action for the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.

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