Greco Becomes First 30-Goal Scorer in T-Birds History in Sold out Finale
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Before an 11th sellout hockey crowd of the 2018-19 season inside the MassMutual Center on Saturday night, the Springfield Thunderbirds (32-29-9-5) saw one of their All-Stars make history despite a 5-3 defeat to the Providence Bruins (38-26-8-3) on the scoreboard.
The Thunderbirds fed off the energy of the home crowd as they jumped onto the ice in their Red Sox inspired specialty jerseys. 11:27 into the first, Juho Lammikko brought the volume level to ear-shattering extremes when he beat Dan Vladar with a wrister in the low slot to make it 1-0 Thunderbirds off a set-up by Dryden Hunt.
At the other end of the ice, Sam Montembeault was looking to rebound from a 5-0 loss six nights earlier in Charlotte, and he responded with 13 strong saves to keep Providence off the board in the opening period. The Thunderbirds had three chances to cushion their lead, but the Bruins' second-ranked penalty kill help Springfield at bay.
In the middle period, the game quickly turned into the Trent Frederic show for the Bruins. The rookie center tied the game, 1-1, just 42 seconds into the second with a wrister from the left wing circle that beat Montembeault on the stick side.
While the Thunderbirds would only register two shots on goal in the second, they made one of the two count when Anthony Greco hit Bobby Farnham streaking down the center lane on a 2-on-1, and the Boston area native beat Vladar to restore the Springfield lead, 2-1 at 8:27.
Unfortunately, Springfield continued to have trouble finding answers for the 21-year-old Frederic, who tied the game while shorthanded at 12:47 when Tanner Pond patiently drew Ludwig Bystrom down to the ice before spinning a backhander to Frederic for an empty net tap-in.
Then at 15:41, Frederic floated a wrister from the left wing circle through a screen and past Montembeault to complete the single period hat trick to make it 3-2.
The Bruins outshot the Thunderbirds 27-8 in the final 40 minutes of play and pulled away when Lee Stempniak converted a redirection on the power play at 5:22 of the third for what eventually became the game-winner, making it 4-2.
Greco made sure the fans would witness more history from him on the final home game night of the season. With 9:44 elapsed in the third and Springfield operating 5-on-3, Greco received a left circle pass from Thomas Schemitsch and fired it past Vladar for his 30th goal of the season, making it a 4-3 game at the time. Greco's 30-goal season is the first in the Thunderbirds' three-year history.
Providence's defense, though, would make sure the T-Birds would not get another chance, and Anton Blidh capped the night with an empty-netter at 19:01.
The Thunderbirds conclude their season on Sunday afternoon with a 3:05 p.m. matinee in Providence against the Bruins to complete the home-and-home set.
Thunderbirds fans interested in becoming 2019-2020 Season Ticket Members can visit www.springfieldthunderbirds.com to learn about the various packages and benefits available. Questions can be directed to the Thunderbirds office by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
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