Springfield Thunderbirds

T-Birds' 3rd Period Push Not Enough; Charlotte Earns Weekend Split

February 18, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds look for a goal against the Charlotte Checkers
Springfield Thunderbirds look for a goal against the Charlotte Checkers
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (23-20-3-2) were unable to complete a third-period comeback attempt, as they fell by a final score of 5-3 against the Charlotte Checkers (24-20-5-0) on Sunday inside Bojangles' Coliseum.

The Checkers carried much of the offensive play in the opening 10 minutes, making Malcolm Subban work a lot in the first period. Moments after a Springfield delay-of-game penalty ended, Charlotte maintained offensive pressure and got on the board as Gerry Mayhew found open ice in the low slot and one-touched a pass from Casey Fitzgerald through Subban at 9:22. The Checkers hit two other posts in the period on their way to outshooting Springfield 17-7 in the first frame.

Springfield had its own chance clip iron in the early stages, as Jakub Vrana narrowly missed giving the T-Birds a 1-0 edge when he one-timed a Ryan Suzuki saucer pass off the pipe behind Spencer Knight. Despite the disparity in shot attempts, the T-Birds still found a way to get the game evened up when Zach Dean deflected a Leo Loof shot from the left circle all the way to the crease and through Knight's legs with just 1:09 left in the first, tying the game, 1-1.

The tying marker, however, proved to do little to quell Charlotte's offensive mojo in the second period. Another lengthy defensive zone sequence for the T-Birds ended in a Ryan McAllister one-time goal at 2:13 of the middle frame. Springfield's penalty kill then got dented for the first time in the season series at 10:49 when Zac Dalpe found a loose puck deep in the blue paint before Subban and the defense could clear it away. The Checker captain's 12th goal of the season upped the lead to 3-1, which would stand through the end of the second. Charlotte outshot Springfield 33-12 through 40 minutes.

Springfield threatened another third period comeback just 41 seconds into the third as Joey Duszak wristed a shot over Knight's blocker to make it a 3-2 game off assists from Matthew Peca and Adam Gaudette. Despite a heavy presence in the Charlotte zone in the opening half of the final frame, the score stayed 3-2 until Justin Sourdif guided a Mayhew centering pass through Subban to restore the two-goal cushion for the Checkers at 12:04.

Still undeterred, Peca and the T-Birds responded in kind just 48 seconds later, as the captain circled the offensive zone before elevating a wrist shot through traffic and over Knight's glove to cut it down to a 4-3 score.

With 2:51 remaining, the Springfield power play was given a grand opportunity following a tripping penalty on Sourdif, but the Charlotte penalty killers answered the call, and another Springfield minor penalty nullified the power play and spoiled any chances of a tying goal. Mayhew finished his three-point night, finding the empty net with just over 30 seconds to play.

It marked Charlotte's first win in four tries this season against the Thunderbirds. Springfield returns home to begin a three-game weekend on Friday as the I-91 rival Hartford Wolf Pack comes to town. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the MassMutual Center this Friday night.

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 look for a goal against the Charlotte Checkers
Springfield Thunderbirds look for a goal against the Charlotte Checkers


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