Springfield Thunderbirds

T-Birds' Misfortune Spoils Dean's Dazzling Night

February 24, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds on game night
Springfield Thunderbirds on game night
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (24-21-3-2) battled back to even from a three-goal deficit, but could not complete a second comeback attempt in a 5-4 loss to the Providence Bruins (32-15-3-2) on Saturday night in front of yet another sellout crowd of 6,793 at the MassMutual Center.

After Springfield's special teams had a prolific first period on Friday, the Bruins came out swinging with their specialty units on Saturday. On the game's first power play at 11:37, Jayson Megna and Georgii Merkulov made two quick passes through the middle of the offensive zone, allowing Fabian Lysell some time from the left-wing circle. With a screen in front from Patrick Brown, Lysell's shot glanced in off a defender and gave Providence a 1-0 lead on their 10th power-play goal against Springfield this season.

3:06 later, the Bruins were shorthanded, and just 24 hours after scoring three shorthanded tallies against Cleveland, they added another as John Farinacci cashed in on a three-way passing play in the offensive zone, one-timing an Alec Regula pass through a stretching Malcolm Subban at 14:43, making it 2-0 for the visitors.

Rookie Zach Dean did his best to turn the momentum of the period when he raced down the left wing and roofed a shot over Brandon Bussi at 19:38 of the first, bringing Springfield to within one, 2-1, after the first. Dean extended his goal streak to three consecutive games.

Providence seemed unaffected by the late goal in period one, and just 1:21 into the second, they got a fortuitous bounce as a Frederic Brunet one-time attempt glanced off a defender's stick before sailing over Subban's shoulder to re-establish the two-goal lead at 3-1.

3:04 later, a draw win gave the Bruins their fourth goal of the night as Megna tied up his opponent, allowing Merkulov to move in and punch a shot over Subban's glove to give Providence its largest lead of the night, 4-1. Megna factored into the scoring of each of the first four Bruin tallies.

Springfield's rejuvenated power play, though, had its own rebuttal less than two minutes later. With the T-Birds working on a 4-on-3, Joey Duszak slid a pass through to Jakub Vrana on the right circle. Without any wasted motion, Vrana whipped a cross-ice pass to Adam Gaudette, who one-timed it through Bussi for his 28th goal of the season at 6:19 of the second, cutting Providence's lead to 4-2.

On a later 5-on-4 power play at 14:09, Gaudette got on the board again, this time crashing the net for a loose puck that sat all by itself in the crease after Bussi could not squeeze a deflection attempt by Dean. Gaudette's ninth multi-goal game of the season brought the score to 4-3.

Springfield's shorthanded unit also wanted to jump into the act, and Dean again found himself in the middle of things at 16:18. He entered the offensive zone, dropping a pass to Will Bitten near the point. Bitten's shot hit Bussi in the chest but fell out of his equipment and down to the ice. Dean, in the right place at the right time, shifted the puck to his backhand and poked it home to tie the game, 4-4. It marked Dean's first multi-goal game and his first three-point night as a pro.

However, Springfield's penalty kill could not finish off the job, as Reilly Walsh unleashed a perfectly placed wrister under the crossbar just 46 seconds later, restoring the Bruins lead at 5-4.

In the final minute of the second, controversy entered the equation. As Bitten drove to the front of the net, he appeared to be cross-checked in the back and thrown into Bussi. Dean swept up the loose puck and fired it into the goal, thinking he had tied the game and recorded his first pro hat trick. Instead, Bitten was whistled for goaltender interference, and the 5-4 score held into the third.

After a frenetic attack by both offenses in the first 40 minutes, both goaltenders stiffened in the third, as the 20 combined third-period shots yielded nothing on the offensive end of things, with Springfield coming up shy of finding an equalizer with Subban on the bench in the final minute.

The T-Birds look to take two out of three victories on the weekend when they visit the Bridgeport Islanders for a 3:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday at Total Mortgage Arena.

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 on game night
Springfield Thunderbirds on game night


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