T-Birds Offense Can't Overcome Defending Champion Checkers
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (1-1-0-0) could not complete a weekend sweep as they fell by a final score of 4-2 to the Charlotte Checkers (1-1-0-0) on Sunday afternoon inside the MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds and Checkers did not generate much in the way of offense in the opening 10 minutes of the first period, but Charlotte ultimately dented the scoreboard first on their first power play chance.
At the 13:14 mark, Morgan Geekie took a simple shot from the top of the right circle through traffic that eluded Chris Driedger to give Charlotte a 1-0 advantage.
Unlike Bridgeport on Friday night, the Checkers were able to add to their advantage in short order as Steven Lorentz set up shop in the right circle and one-timed a Roland McKeown pass over Driedger's shoulder to make it a 2-0 game at 15:16.
Springfield had a gift-wrapped chance to cut into the deficit when both McKeown and Colin Markison were whistled for delay of game penalties six seconds apart, but the Thunderbirds managed just two shots in the 5-on-3 advantage and Charlotte escaped the period with the 2-0 lead intact.
The Charlotte penalty kill continued its proficiency in the second period, stopping the Springfield power play in its tracks twice more. While the Checkers power play did not score on their third chance early in the middle period, they did create offensive pressure to lead to an even-strength tally as the man advantage expired. McKeown unleashed a shot from the right point that bounced into the slot, where he located his own rebound and slid it to Anthony Louis on the doorstep for the tap-in goal, making it 3-0 at 5:57 of the second.
While the Springfield power play bogged down, the T-Birds were able to get on the board in the back half of the period as Jonathan Ang patiently outwaited a sprawled Charlotte defender before sliding a back pass to Ethan Prow. The first-year Thunderbird beat Charlotte goalie Anton Forsberg to cut the Checkers lead to 3-1 heading into the final period.
The Thunderbirds put a bigger emphasis on shots in the final period, firing 16 at the net in the closing 20 minutes, but could only solve Forsberg once with less than three minutes to play, when Brady Keeper beat the goaltender with a one-time slapper from the right point. In the closing minutes, the Thunderbirds fell shorthanded, and as Driedger tried to head to the bench for an extra attacker, Charlotte's Julien Gauthier scooped up the puck and beat Driedger back to the net to finish off the 4-2 win with less than a minute to play.
After the two-game set this weekend, the Thunderbirds finish their season-opening three-game homestand with the first 3-2-1 Friday of the season on Oct. 11 against the Rochester Americans, with puck drop slated for 7:05 p.m.
For more ticket information or to become a 2019-20 Springfield Thunderbirds ticket package member, or to purchase single game tickets, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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Springfield Thunderbirds battle the Charlotte Checkers
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