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 Springfield Thunderbirds

Gaudette Makes T-Birds History, Zherenko Shines in 7-3 Win

March 2, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds celebrate win
Springfield Thunderbirds celebrate win
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (25-23-3-2) exploded for seven goals en route to a 7-3 win over the Laval Rocket (23-24-5-2) on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center before a sixth consecutive sellout crowd of 6,793.

The Rocket propelled themselves to the early 1-0 lead in the dying seconds of the game's first power play, as Lias Andersson jabbed home a rebound on the back post at 4:37, beating Vadim Zherenko and giving the 1-0 advantage.

In his return from injury, Zherenko was busy early and often in the opening period, as Laval uncorked 26 shots in the opening period. The T-Birds, despite registering just seven shots on Jakub Dobes' net, made the most of them. At 10:50, Ryan Suzuki skated down the left wing into the circle and elevated a wrist shot off the far post and past Dobes, tying the score, 1-1. Adam Gaudette picked up the primary assist to extend his point streak to nine games, a season-high among T-Birds skaters.

48 seconds later, moments after Springfield went to its second power play, Dylan Coghlan unleashed a slapper that glanced off the inside of the post on the stick side, beating Dobes and giving Springfield its first lead, 2-1.

The goal-scoring blitz did not end, though, and the Rocket responded just 58 more seconds later, as Philippe Maillet outwaited Zherenko on a forehand-to-backhand deke off a 2-on-1 pass from Andersson, bringing the contest to a 2-2 tie at 12:36, the final goal in a chaotic first period that also saw a pair of fights involved Mikhail Abramov against Riley Kidney and Leo Loof tussling with Filip Cederqvist.

After Zherenko's stellar 24-save first period, the second-year netminder was even better in period two, as he got in the way of each of the Rocket's 15 shots in the middle period. Once again, the backstop was aided by a quick-strike offense, which connected twice more in 43 seconds.

At 5:57, T-Birds fans witnessed a piece of history as Gaudette scooped up a loose puck in front of Dobes' crease, turned to the backhand, and tucked it behind the Laval goalie, setting a new single-season T-Birds record with his 31st goal in just 48 games this season. Suzuki's third point of the night helped set up Gaudette's record-setter, and Matt Kessel also accrued his first point since returning from the Blues.

On the very next shift, Coghlan raced up to hold a puck in along the right-wing wall, fluttering a wrist shot to the top of the crease. Dobes blocked the initial try, but Will Bitten drifted to his backhand side and chipped a bid up into the top shelf to increase the lead to 4-2 on Bitten's 12th of the season. Springfield's PK rose to the occasion from there, killing three separate Laval power plays in the middle stanza to ensure the 4-2 lead held into the third.

Drew Callin got rewarded at 2:27 of the third to make it a 5-2 game. After Dobes stopped Callin on a breakaway seconds earlier, the T-Birds forward found his way to the front of the net, where he jammed a loose puck across the line after Sam Bitten narrowly missed a shot that caught the outside of the post.

Mattias Norlinder would finally end the T-Birds' run of three unanswered tallies with a seeing-eye wrister that squeezed through Zherenko at 6:31, but it was of little note in the end.

With Laval very much still in it at 5-3, the T-Birds' penalty killers again rose to the occasion, this time dispatching 1:43 of 5-on-3 Rocket power play time. Moments afterward, Mikhail Abramov finished a crafty backhand-to-forehand maneuver to chip a shot in behind Dobes to restore the three-goal advantage at 11:23.

In the dying minutes, Springfield's power play got to work again after Andersson delivered a brutal check to the head of Coghlan, earning the winger a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Keean Washkurak took advantage of the extended advantage, one-timing a shot past Dobes at 16:38 to round out the scoring as Springfield tied its season high in goals.

Zherenko earned his first win dating back to Dec. 27 as he tied Malcolm Subban for the most saves by a Springfield goalie this season with 53 stops on 56 Laval attempts.

The T-Birds look to round out the three-game weekend with a second straight victory as they welcome the Bridgeport Islanders for 3:05 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

Fans can reserve seats for Thunderbirds hockey action throughout the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting


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Springfield Thunderbirds celebrate win
Springfield Thunderbirds celebrate win


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