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 Springfield Thunderbirds

T-Birds Battle Back to Earn Point Over Bruins

January 6, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds' Adam Gaudette and Providence Bruins' Michael Callahan in action
Springfield Thunderbirds' Adam Gaudette and Providence Bruins' Michael Callahan in action
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (16-11-3-2) battled hard in a back-and-forth contest against the Providence Bruins (18-12-3-0) before eventually dropping a tough 4-3 shootout decision inside a sold-out MassMutual Center on Saturday night.

Malcolm Subban got the start in between the pipes for the T-Birds and was strong against his old club. The veteran backstop made 36 saves during a busy night in the crease. At the other end, Brandon Bussi came up with 30 saves on the 33 shots he faced on the evening through overtime.

The game started with fireworks when Springfield's Keean Washkurak and Joey Abate dropped the gloves in a fight at the 3:22 mark of the game, energizing the sold-out Thunderdome crowd.

Hugh McGing had the home team's first prime scoring opportunity, as the winger made a crafty move to dance around a defender to get towards the goal. Unfortunately, McGing's backhander on the net trickled just wide.

The T-Birds got on the board first thanks to the efforts of Adam Gaudette and Matthew Peca. Peca found Gaudette streaking into the Providence zone with some room to shoot, and the Massachusetts native found some daylight on the blocker side of Bussi. Gaudette's 18th goal of the year gave Springfield a 1-0 lead with 6:05 left in the first period.

Gaudette would add to the T-Birds lead just 4:21 later. McGing's two-line stretch pass up the ice sent Gaudette in on a breakaway, where the winger deked out Bussi before firing it home to make it 2-0. With the goal, Gaudette moved into a first-place tie atop the AHL leaderboard in goals on the year with 19. The score remained 2-0 into the intermission.

The beginning of the second period did not start ideally for the T-Birds, with Providence being granted a 5-on-3-man advantage after a double-minor to Dylan Coghlan for high-sticking and a tripping minor to Zach Dean, setting the Bruins up with a full two-minute 5-on-3.

After some great shot blocking by the T-Birds penalty killers, Fabian Lysell finally trickled a shot behind Subban after an unfortunate bounce off a T-Birds defender to cut Springfield's lead to 2-1. The P-Bruins would quickly equalize just 2:37 later. After a shot from a Providence defenseman was blocked, Brett Harrison found the rebound and shot a backhander past Subban to tie the game up.

The P-Bruins' surge continued, as they broke the tie at the 8:25 mark thanks to a goal by Anthony Richard, whose shot in traffic found the upper corner. Springfield was unable to quell the momentum, and the home side was forced to enter the third period down by a goal.

In the third period, the play was very much back-and-forth between the teams, with Springfield and Providence trading chances on both netminders. Springfield's fourth line provided the tying tally as Washkurak tipped a Calle Rosen shot past Bussi for his first goal of the season, deadlocking the game, 3-3, and for the second time in the season series, overtime was needed.

The T-Birds had the first golden opportunity in the sudden-death frame after Lysell lost his stick, allowing Coghlan open space to fire a shot on goal, but Bussi was up to the task and made the stop. The P-Bruins came close with their own chance as Lysell hit the crossbar. The rebound came right back out to the stick of Georgii Merkulov, but the Bruins' leading scorer could not stuff it home. Gaudette then closed the wild overtime with a breakaway chance for the hat trick with five seconds to play. With the crowd on its feet, Gaudette's chance would not pan out as Bussi came up huge once again to make the pad save on a backhand bid.

Subban and Bussi kept every single shooter from scoring through the first five rounds of the shootout. In the bottom of round six, John Farinacci finally ended the festivities, outlasting Subban on a forehand deke to give his team the 4-3 win.

The T-Birds now will face a stiff challenge on their schedule with seven of their next eight games coming on the road. It begins with a rematch on Sunday against the Bruins at 3:05 p.m. at Amica Mutual Pavilion.

Fans can reserve seats to be a part of the Thunderbirds' hockey action for the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting


Images from this story

Springfield Thunderbirds' Adam Gaudette and Providence Bruins' Michael Callahan in action
Springfield Thunderbirds' Adam Gaudette and Providence Bruins' Michael Callahan in action


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American Hockey League Stories from January 6, 2024

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