T-Birds Host Pair of Divisional Matchups this Weekend
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (30-24-2-0) continue a pivotal stretch of their season on Friday and Saturday for a pair of home games inside the MassMutual Center. On Friday, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (19-30-5-2) visit, while the Providence Bruins (32-18-3-3) will be the opposition on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds' roster will presumably boast three new additions for the first time this weekend, and Springfield sits just two points behind Charlotte for playoff positioning in the Atlantic Division entering the weekend.
On Monday, as part of a trade that sent former Panther Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes, the T-Birds acquired forward Eetu Luostarinen and defenseman Chase Priskie - both of whom had been skating with the Charlotte Checkers previously.
Luostarinen, 21, is in his first season in North America, and he has scored 25 points (8g, 17a) over 44 games with Charlotte. He also made his NHL debut with Carolina, skating in eight games with the Hurricanes, recording one assist. The native of Silinjarvi, Finland also played in parts of three seasons professionally with KalPa in the Finnish professional Liiga.
Priskie, 23, is in his rookie professional season, and he sits tied for 13th among all rookies with 31 points (6g, 25a) in his first 52 AHL games with the Checkers. A native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Priskie was a Top 10 Hobey Baker Award finalist as college hockey's top player in 2018-19, where he captained the Quinnipiac Bobcats to the second round of the NCAA hockey tournament. Priskie was originally a sixth round draft pick (177th overall) by the Washington Capitals in the 2016 NHL Draft.
In addition, the T-Birds could also see the debut of another newcomer to the blue line, Emil Djuse, who was acquired on Monday from the Dallas Stars organization. The 26-year-old native of Skelleftea, Sweden has registered 29 points (4g, 25a) in 48 games with the Texas Stars. Prior to joining the Stars, Djuse played professionally in his native Sweden for parts of six seasons.
Further bolstering the Thunderbirds roster this weekend is Chris Driedger, who was assigned to the T-Birds on Thursday from Florida on a conditioning loan. Driedger was injured with the Panthers on Jan. 16 in a game against Los Angeles and has yet to take part in a game in the NHL or AHL since. When he was recalled by Florida earlier this season, Driedger left Springfield with a league-leading .938 save percentage on the heels of leading the AHL for the entire 2018-19 season in that category with a .924 clip.
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