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 Springfield Thunderbirds

Hofer's Heroics Not Enough for T-Birds vs. Griffins

December 9, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Grand Rapids Griffins' Elmer Söderblom versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Joel Hofer
Grand Rapids Griffins' Elmer Söderblom versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Joel Hofer
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (8-10-1-4) could not quite hold off the Grand Rapids Griffins (10-11-1-0) on Friday night in the clubs' first-ever meeting at the MassMutual Center. The visitors came away with the 2-1 victory in overtime.

As has been the case for much of his second season in Springfield, Joel Hofer was stellar in the opening period, making 16 saves in the first 20 minutes. Several of those chances were high-danger ones, and Hofer came up with stone-cold denials on a Tyler Spezia breakaway, as well as a pair of masterful saves moving post-to-post against Alex Chiasson and Gordie Green.

At the other end, Springfield's very first shot of the night found paydirt, as former Griffin Martin Frk worked the puck from the left point down to the right circle, where Brady Lyle was pinching from the blue line. Without a clear shooting angle, Lyle carried the puck around the net and slipped it out front to Nikita Alexandrov, who jammed it home before Magnus Hellberg could get across the crease for Grand Rapids. The goal, Alexandrov's third in three games, came just 2:35 into the contest.

Hofer's second period was slightly calmer, but he maintained his poise to turn away 10 pucks in the middle stanza, including a point-blank chance by Pontus Andreasson, who had entered with 14 points over his last 13 games. Springfield's penalty kill was put to its first test of the night late in the frame, and Hofer made the three saves needed to allow the T-Birds to escape unharmed with a 1-0 lead into the third.

The two teams traded unsuccessful power plays in the opening half of the third period, and the game entered the final minutes fairly uneventfully with the same 1-0 score. However, one misplay by the T-Birds allowed Chiasson to walk toward the net off the right-wing wall. After a pass attempt careened toward the crease, Chiasson and Chase Pearson both whacked at the loose puck, eventually jabbing it over the line to tie the game with just 3:05 to go. Chiasson would get credit for the goal, his first as a Griffin.

Overtime would last just 56 seconds as Taro Hirose froze the T-Birds defense, allowing Jared McIsaac to move in on the left-wing side. The defenseman uncorked a wrister from the circle that eluded Hofer and gave the visiting Griffins their second consecutive win.

The Thunderbirds welcome another first-time opponent on Saturday night as the Milwaukee Admirals enter the Thunderdome for the 6th Annual Teddy Bear Toss presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the MassMutual Center.

Thunderbirds fans can reserve their seats for the 2022-23 season and lock in the best prices and member benefits by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visiting

Images from this story

Grand Rapids Griffins' Elmer Söderblom versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Joel Hofer
Grand Rapids Griffins' Elmer Söderblom versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Joel Hofer


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American Hockey League Stories from December 9, 2022

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