T-Birds Stun Devils with Third-Period Comeback Win on Road
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (25-24-6-5) erased a second intermission deficit for the first time all season on Friday night as they stunned the Binghamton Devils (24-32-5-0) for a 3-2 win at the Floyd L. Maines Memorial Arena.
Despite losing seven of their previous eight contests, the Devils came out with a purpose in the opening period, tallying eight shots in as many minutes to start the opening period, with Chris Driedger needing to be at the top of his game early on. Driedger prevented a quick Devils strike just 18 seconds into the first as he slid left-to-right to kick out a Ryan Schmelzer backhand try.
Springfield's power play, which connected on three of six chances in the first matchup with Binghamton in the month of December, had the first special teams opportunity of the night past the midpoint of the first, but failed to generate anything against rookie netminder Evan Cormier.
Binghamton, in turn, responded to open the scoring. Moments after Jean-Sebastien Dea pushed a puck into the blue paint to create a scramble, forcing Cormier to sprawl to keep the T-Birds from a 1-0 lead, the Devils capitalized in transition. Eric Tangradi raced up the right wing and snapped a quick try over Driedger's paddle and into the twine at 15:52 to make it a 1-0 lead for Binghamton into the first intermission.
The Springfield penalty kill extended its success streak to 25 straight kills in the opening six minutes of the seconds following a delay of game minor to ex-Devil Jacob MacDonald. Following that successful defensive effort, the Thunderbirds' hottest offensive contributor equalized the score. At the 9:22 mark, and with an odd-man rush in front of him, Dea snapped a high-rising wrister over Cormier's glove from the left circle to tie the score, 1-1.
That tie score would not make it two minutes, though. Binghamton took advantage of a rare Driedger misplay, with Brett Seney intercepting a pass behind the goal line and centering it to John Edwardh, who backhanded a squeaker past Driedger at 11:00 to make it a 2-1 Devil lead.
Springfield's power play got a second chance to tie the score late in the period, but the man advantage again came up empty in its second effort of the evening, and the Thunderbirds headed to the third period trailing - a position in which Springfield had failed to record a win all season.
That all changed on Friday night, however, and it began with a play that swung the entire momentum of the game. At the 7:52 mark of the final period, Egor Sharangovich cruised to the net from the right wing side and beat Driedger to the stick side, presumably to give Binghamton a 3-1 lead. However, referees Sean MacFarlane and Beau Halkidis waved off the goal and awarded a power play to Springfield, ruling that Brandon Baddock had tripped a Thunderbird player to create Sharangovich's goal-scoring chance.
Just 13 seconds into the ensuing power play, the Thunderbirds flipped the game upside-down as Anthony Greco's shot from the right circle squeaked through Cormier via a Paul Thompson redirection. The captain's 25th goal of the year made it a 2-2 game at 8:05.
The top power play in the league earned another chance to break the tie, this time by way of a four-minute high-sticing double minor on Tangradi. However, Thompson negated two whole minutes off that advantage when he was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction less than two minutes later.
With both teams returning to 5-on-5 action in the final six minutes of the third, an innocent face-off provided the setting for Springfield's first third period comeback win this season. Harry Zolnierczyk poked the draw to nearby Sebastian Repo, and the Finnish winger snapped an 11-game goal scoring drought with a rifling wrist shot that escaped Cormier at 15:23.
Driedger and the Thunderbirds blue line held the fort from there, with Thompson himself blocking a pair of Binghamton last gasps in the closing seconds. The win was Springfield's third in the last four games and Driedger's fourth win in six outings.
On Saturday, the Thunderbirds will look to pick up their third straight Pink in the Rink night victory after dispatching Hartford 5-2 in the first ever installment on March 11, 2016 and shutting out Utica 4-0 a year ago on March 10. Anthony Greco has scored a goal in each of the first two Pink in the Rink night contests in Springfield, both in front of sellout crowds. The Thunderbirds will wear specialty jerseys with pink accents in support of breast cancer awareness. A post-game live auction for player-worn jerseys will benefit Baystate Health's Rays of Hope Foundation.
Springfield Thunderbirds 2019-2020 ticket memberships are on sale now and include the best benefits of being a Thunderbirds ticket holder. To learn more about memberships and single game tickets, visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com or call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
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