T-Birds Cap 2018-19 Season with Explosive 6-1 Win in Providence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Behind a six-goal offensive explosion and a fifth straight win from its starting goaltender, the Springfield Thunderbirds (33-29-9-5) ended their season in high-flying fashion with a 6-1 win over the Providence Bruins (38-27-8-3) inside the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Looking for his fifth straight winning start to close the season, Chris Driedger answered the bell in the first period as the Bruins uncorked 16 shots at the Springfield net. The veteran backstop turned away 15 of the 16, and one unfortunate bounce prevented a perfect 20-minute frame.
At the 16:08 mark, moving in on an odd-man counter rush, Gemel Smith fed the puck to Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson at the bottom of the right circle. In trying to hit Zach Senyshyn with the cross-ice pass, Forsbacka-Karlsson instead got the credit for his seventh goal of the year as it caromed into the net off of a Thunderbirds defender's skate.
While they took the early lead, the Bruins would not be ahead for long. 11 seconds after the Bruins goal, Wiley Sherman was whistled for a trip, and just 38 seconds after the Forsbacka-Karlsson goal, Alex Breton got the tying marker for Springfield in similar fashion, banking a centering pass off a Bruins defender to record his first career AHL power play goal.
That 1-1 tie carried into the middle period, despite Springfield being outshot 17-6. A night ago, the Bruins rallied for three unanswered goals to take the lead for good. On Sunday, the Thunderbirds flipped that script upside-down with four unanswered strikes in the middle period to blow the game open. Jayce Hawryluk gave Springfield its first lead with a punch shot finish from Julian Melchiori just 51 seconds into the middle period.
Just 70 seconds later, Dryden Hunt set up in front of Zane McIntyre and deflected a Dylan MacPherson point shot behind the Bruins netminder to make it 3-1.
Exactly seven minutes later, Breton made a second appearance in the goal column, as he slipped into the slot to take a centering connection from Jean-Sebastien Dea and blast it through McIntyre to push the lead to 4-1 at 9:01. Both MacPherson and Liam Pecararo garnered their first AHL points on the assists.
The Thunderbirds' penalty kill kept the Bruins from getting closer in the second half of the period, and in the closing seconds, Thomas Schemitsch picked up his third point of the afternoon as he pounded a rebound into an open net following a Jacob MacDonald point shot with just 1.2 seconds left on the clock.
With a comfortable four-goal lead in his back pocket and 25 saves through two periods, Driedger added 14 more stops for good measure in the third to become just the second Springfield goalie ever to post five consecutive winning starts. Juho Lammikko added one more shorthanded goal for good measure off a setup from Hunt to round out the 6-1 final score. Driedger finished the season with the AHL lead in save percentage at .923.
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). The 2019-20 schedule will be unveiled later this summer.
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