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T-Birds Get Game 1 Win, Toppling Checkers, 6-0

May 22, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds came roaring out of the gates, dispatching the Charlotte Checkers 6-0 to take Game 1 of the Atlantic Division Finals.

The two top teams in the Atlantic Division in the regular season wasted little time getting on the body early, as the game's pace began at a raucous clip. Despite all the chaos around them, goalies Joel Hofer and Joey Daccord were far from ruffled, keeping their opponents off the board through the first 15 minutes of the series.

The Thunderbirds' man advantage thought they had catapulted to the lead just before the midpoint of the period, but a wrist shot from Klim Kostin clipped the underside of the crossbar and stayed out of the net.

Springfield's potent power play, though, would pick up right where it left off on its second chance of the afternoon when Brady Lyle flipped a wrist shot that got behind Daccord thanks to a nifty redirect by Nathan Todd on the edge of the crease at 16:47. Todd's first goal of the postseason gave the T-Birds' their third straight home playoff game with a power-play goal to open the scoring. Will Bitten picked up his sixth point in four playoff games with the secondary assist.

Charlotte had a big tipping-point moment in the game when they drew a four-minute power play in the closing seconds of the first. Despite all that time on the advantage, though, Hofer and the Springfield penalty kill stood their ground to begin the second, improving to 8-for-8 to begin their home ice PK work in the postseason.

The second period saw scarce chances for the first half of play, but that would change after an Alexander True penalty gave Springfield a man advantage at 14:19. On that power play, Dakota Joshua jammed a puck into the paint, with multiple T-Birds desperately trying to push it across the goal line. Somewhere in the traffic, a Checkers defender closed his glove on the puck, resulting in an automatic penalty shot for Springfield.

Sam Anas, who entered with an incredible 17-for-33 shootout success rate in his regular-season AHL career, made no mistakes, deking Daccord down to the ice and elevating a forehander over the fallen keeper to make it a 2-0 score with 4:39 left in the second.

Springfield grabbed the game by the collar in the final period, as Anas sneaked a rising wrister through Daccord on the short side just 57 seconds into the final period to elevate the lead to 3-0. It was Anas' fourth goal and ninth point already in the postseason.

The T-Birds were far from finished. First, MacKenzie MacEachern stuffed a wraparound through Daccord's legs at 3:06 to make it a 4-0 game on his third tally of the postseason. That chased the Checkers' starting goalie from the contest. Christopher Gibson entered, but the results did not change. Kostin redeemed himself with a turnaround rocket at 3:34 to make it 5-0.

As the 6,298 inside the MassMutual Center kept the building's decibel levels high, Tyler Tucker brought them back to their feet one more time with a slap shot through Gibson at 16:03 to finish off the 6-0 triumph.

Matthew Peca finished tied with Anas (2g, 1a) with a game-high three points on a trio of third-period assists, while Lyle and Bitten added two assists each. Hofer picked up his first career playoff shutout as a pro, making 35 denials in the winning effort.

Game 2 tickets for the Atlantic Division Finals can be purchased. The full schedule for the is as follows - games marked with an asterisk (*) will be played only if necessary.

Game 2: Wednesday, May 25- Checkers @ Thunderbirds, 7:05 p.m. - Click Here for Tickets

Game 3: Saturday, May 28- Thunderbirds @ Checkers, 6:00 p.m.

Game 4*: Sunday, May 29- Thunderbirds @ Checkers, 6:00 p.m.

Game 5*: Tuesday, May 31- Thunderbirds @ Checkers, 7:00 p.m.

Thunderbirds' playoff tickets, including single-game tickets and Pay As We Play plans, are on sale now! To purchase your seats, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit

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