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 Springfield Thunderbirds

Bitten, Frk Anchor Comeback Win in Hartford

March 17, 2023 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Hartford Wolf Pack's Dylan Garand and Libor Hajek versus the Springfield Thunderbirds
Hartford Wolf Pack's Dylan Garand and Libor Hajek versus the Springfield Thunderbirds
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

HARTFORD, Conn. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (32-21-2-4) shocked the Hartford Wolf Pack (25-24-4-7) on Friday night at the XL Center behind a four-goal explosion in the third period en route to a 4-2 win.

The T-Birds were uncharacteristically sloppy with the puck in the opening minutes on this night, and Hartford took advantage to grab a quick 2-0 lead in six minutes. First, after Vadim Zherenko made a kick save on Lauri Pajuniemi, the puck skipped off the left-wing half-wall right to Anton Blidh, who snapped a quick forehander over Zherenko's glove at 4:32 to make it 1-0 for the Wolf Pack.

Just 1:23 later, Springfield fumbled away another puck in their own zone, as Ty Emberson stole it at the right point and threw a shot toward the goal line. It ricocheted off a Springfield defender and right to the tape of Will Cuylle, who buried his 21st goal of the season from point-blank range to extend Hartford's lead at 5:55.

From that point, shots came at a premium in a fast-moving period, as each club managed just one attempt on goal in the following 10 minutes after Cuylle's tally. Springfield got the first power play chance of the night, but Hartford goaltender Dylan Garand and the Wolf Pack penalty kill did the job to keep their 2-0 lead intact after 20 minutes.

While the T-Birds were able to generate a bit more in the offensive zone in the second period, Hartford continued to make life relatively easy for Garand, who finished 40 minutes with 21 saves and nothing in behind him. Zherenko kept the T-Birds at an arms' length, stopping 11 Wolf Pack shots in the middle period.

The Thunderbirds finally got on the scoresheet thanks to a silky feed from Mikhail Abramov to Will Bitten at the 6:21 mark of the third, cutting the Hartford deficit to 2-1. Abramov had two defenders shadowing him as he held the puck in the trapezoid before slipping a backhand feed to Bitten at the top of the crease. Bitten's first goal in nine games was his 16th of the season.

5:20 later, Bitten was on the scene again to get the equalizing tally. This time, Hugh McGing darted in on the forecheck to swipe the puck from a Hartford defender before finding Bitten in front of the net. Bitten patiently deked around a fallen Garand before slipping it home on the forehand to make it 2-2 at 11:41.

Springfield's power play was dormant on its first two chances of the night, but on its third opportunity, they found the back of the net at 14:39 when Martin Frk blasted his patented slapper through Garand for his 27th of the year and 12th power play strike to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead.

With Hartford desperate to find the tying goal with just over a minute to play, Bitten cashed in for a hat trick into the empty net with 1:13 to go in the game to complete the four-goal unanswered flurry in the final frame.

The T-Birds, winners of four straight and 17 of their last return home for St. Pawdy's Day on Saturday night and a tangle with the Providence Bruins inside a sold-out MassMutual Center. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. in Springfield.

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

Images from this story

Hartford Wolf Pack's Dylan Garand and Libor Hajek versus the Springfield Thunderbirds
Hartford Wolf Pack's Dylan Garand and Libor Hajek versus the Springfield Thunderbirds


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American Hockey League Stories from March 17, 2023

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