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 Springfield Thunderbirds

T-Birds Unable to Dent Knight, Checkers

March 22, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release


Springfield Thunderbirds' Dylan Coghlan and Joseph Duszak battle Charlotte Checkers' Andy Welinski
Springfield Thunderbirds' Dylan Coghlan and Joseph Duszak battle Charlotte Checkers' Andy Welinski
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (27-29-3-2) had no shortage of offensive pressure with 30 shots on net, but could not solve the Charlotte Checkers (32-23-6-0) in a 2-0 game on Friday night before the club's 10th consecutive sellout crowd of 6,793 fans.

T-Birds starting netminder Vadim Zherenko had to be ready from the drop of the puck, as Charlotte raced out on the shot board, taking 14 of the first 18 attempts on goal. "Big Z" was there to answer each challenge, though, which included a shorthanded breakaway save on Rasmus Asplund.

Springfield had two power plays in the opening period to try to break the ice against Checkers goalie Spencer Knight, but the 5-on-4 opportunities were to no avail. The T-Birds' closest chance came at even strength late in the frame when Knight kicked out a big rebound off a right pad save from Will Bitten. The loose puck ended up right on the stick of Hugh McGing in the left circle, but the Springfield winger pushed it just wide of a mostly vacant night.

Knight elevated his game as the contest moved into the middle period, as the former first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers made a pair of key breakaway stops off McGing and Jakub Vrana, and his duel with Zherenko continued past the midpoint of regulation. Knight had 21 saves through two periods.

Power plays for both teams continued to struggle to gain traction, with both penalty kill units going a perfect 3-for-3 over the first 40 minutes. An ordinary keep at the right point finally broke the tie at 17:41 when Michael Benning pinched to hold a puck in at the Springfield blue line, immediately flinging a shot back at the net. With Patrick Giles creating a screen on Zherenko, Benning's shot slipped through on the short side, giving Charlotte the opening goal and a 1-0 lead heading into the third period.

Just 1:44 into the third, Benning was involved in an insurance marker for Charlotte, as he slid the puck perfectly to a cutting Will Lockwood, who guided a deflection through Zherenko's stick side, making it a 2-0 Checkers lead.

The T-Birds' efforts in the third period ultimately proved futile as Knight made 10 more denials to finish his night with 30 stops and his fourth blank sheet of the season.

Springfield looks to get back in the win column on Saturday as they welcome the Syracuse Crunch for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop at the MassMutual Center.

Fans can reserve seats for Thunderbirds' hockey action in the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.

-- SPRINGFIELD THUNDERBIRDS -





Images from this story

Springfield Thunderbirds' Dylan Coghlan and Joseph Duszak battle Charlotte Checkers' Andy Welinski
Springfield Thunderbirds' Dylan Coghlan and Joseph Duszak battle Charlotte Checkers' Andy Welinski

  

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