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 Springfield Thunderbirds

T-Birds' Season Finale Spoiled by Wolf Pack

April 20, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release


Hartford Wolf Pack's Matej Pekar versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Mathias Laferriere
Hartford Wolf Pack's Matej Pekar versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Mathias Laferriere
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (30-37-3-2) closed out their 2023-2024 campaign against their I-91 rivals, the Hartford Wolf Pack (34-27-7-3), falling 6-4 before a 14th consecutive sellout crowd inside the MassMutual Center and 20th total sellout of the season.

Unlike the previous night against Providence, the Thunderbirds struck first. After settling the puck along the boards, Mikhail Abramov sent a quick pass to linemate Mathias Laferriere. Laferriere stepped over the blue line on the right-wing side and wasted no time getting his shot off, beating Wolf Pack rookie netminder Hugo Ollas on the blocker side to give the T-Birds a 1-0 lead at 6:15.

Hartford didn't take long to answer the Laferriere tally, as Brennan Othmann beat Vadim Zherenko 57 seconds after Laferriere opened the scoring with a well-placed wrister from the left circle. Othmann's 20th goal of the year brought it back to square at 1-1. Springfield almost retook the lead later in the period thanks to AHL leading goal-scorer Adam Gaudette, but Gaudette's best attempt of the period rattled off the pipe.

At the 5:56 mark of the first, the home team found a way to regain their one-goal lead. After the Wolf Pack defenders broke up a passing play, the puck found the stick of defenseman Matt Kessel. Kessel stepped into the puck and hammered a slap shot past Ollas, giving Kessel his third goal of the season to make it 2-1 Springfield at 14:04.

For a second time, however, the Wolf Pack answered, as Jaroslav Chmelar took advantage of a stickless T-Birds defender, driving wide on the right wing to beat Zherenko over the shoulder at 17:27, sending the game into intermission deadlocked, 2-2.

Neither team could generate much attack in the opening half of the middle period, but that changed when Jakub Vrana scooted past the Hartford defense to drive in on the crease, where the slick winger tucked a backhander through Ollas' legs to restore Springfield's lead, 3-2, at 14:04.

A T-Birds power play chance came and went without success. Still, worse yet, the Wolf Pack got the game equalized just 11 seconds after the kill as Othmann raced behind the Springfield goal line to field a puck in front of Zherenko before locating a trailing Mac Hollowell, who navigated a backhander into the twine to tie the score, 3-3, heading into the final period.

Zach Dean put the T-Birds back in front again with a power play snapper at 2:50, giving Springfield its fourth lead of the night. However, the Wolf Pack persisted, and Sahil Panwar deflected home his first AHL goal at 9:58 to tie the game, and Othmann followed with a finish on a 2-on-1 at 12:04 to give Hartford the lead, 5-4.

Springfield ran out of offense from there, and Adam Sykora finished the night with an empty-net tally at 18:36.

Fans can reserve seats for Thunderbirds' hockey action in the 2024-25 season with a ticket membership by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.





Images from this story

Hartford Wolf Pack's Matej Pekar versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Mathias Laferriere
Hartford Wolf Pack's Matej Pekar versus Springfield Thunderbirds' Mathias Laferriere

  

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