2nd Period Struggle Does in T-Birds against Bears
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (24-19-2-0) stumbled in the middle period and fell to the Hershey Bears (26-14-2-3) by a final score of 5-2 on Friday night inside the MassMutual Center before a crowd of 6,263.
The Thunderbirds raced out to a lead for the second straight game, and Aleksi Heponiemi finally capitalized for his first AHL goal at 2:03 of the first off a perfect cross-crease setup by Ryan Haggerty.
The 1-0 lead held up until the 11:22 mark of the period. The Bears took advantage in transition with Shane Gersich snapped a wrist shot through the legs of Sam Montembeault to tie the game, 1-1.
Springfield was able to restore its lead before the end of the period. Joel Lowry carried up the left-wing side, waited for Ethan Prow to join the play, took the pass and snapped it underneath the glove of Pheonix Copley to make it 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
The second period would be the T-Birds' undoing on special teams. Jonathan Ang had a chance to extend the T-Birds' lead to 3-1 with a shorthanded breakaway, but Copley turned it aside with the left leg. Moments later, Garrett Pilon stationed himself in front of Montembeault's crease and shuffled home a power play goal at 4:58 to tie the game, 2-2.
Springfield had a power play chance to retake the lead, but moments later, Brian Pinho broke away shorthanded to beat Montembeault under the glove at 8:13 for the eventual game-winning goal, making it 3-2.
Haggerty was then whistled for a five-minute boarding major, and Matt Moulson - playing in his 1000th professional game - banked a side-of-the-net shot through Montembeault at 14:01 to extend the lead to 4-2 on the second power play goal of the period for the Bears.
In the final period, the T-Birds could not get the deficit any closer, and Moulson capped his milestone night with an empty-net goal at 17:50 to round out the scoring.
The T-Birds look for a better ending to their weekend on Saturday night when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 7:05 p.m.
For more ticket information or to become a 2019-20 Springfield Thunderbirds ticket package member, or to purchase single game tickets, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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