Wolf Pack Bests T-Birds in Hartford
HARTFORD, CT - The Springfield Thunderbirds (19-13-4-1) could not hold off a furious push by the Hartford Wolf Pack (19-11-3-2), falling by a final score of 5-1 on Wednesday night inside the XL Center.
Springfield entered the game with most of its season-opening lineup back in the fold, and the unit put together a strong start to the first period, tallying seven of the game's first ten shots. Unfortunately, they could not dent Hartford starting netminder Keith Kinkaid.
Hartford got the game's first goal on the board from an unlikely source when Mike O'Leary took a feed in the left-wing circle from Alex Whelan and beat Charlie Lindgren on the short side to give the Wolf Pack a 1-0 lead at 9:59 of the first.
In the back half of the period, the two clubs traded power plays without success and entering the final minute, the lead stayed 1-0 for Hartford. It appeared as if the Wolf Pack would extend that lead in the dying seconds of the frame when Anthony Greco slipped a pass into the slot area to Austin Rueschoff, who moved in 1-on-1 against Lindgren. The big man made a slick move to the backhand, but Lindgren slid with the play and stoned Rueschoff with a phenomenal right pad save to keep the score where it was.
As if that was not a big enough momentum changer, the T-Birds countered at the other end, and with just 2.1 seconds left in the period, Alexei Toropchenko found a loose puck at his feet on the left side and beat Kinkaid into the upper portion of the net to take the game to intermission in a 1-1 deadlock.
Despite the late goal allowed in the first, the Wolf Pack were not discouraged and opened the second period with a flourish. Just 16 seconds into a power play, former Thunderbird Anthony Greco punched home his first goal against his former team off a slick setup by Johnny Brodzinski at 1:22 of the period to restore Hartford's lead, 2-1.
While the Thunderbirds penalty kill would fend off another Wolf Pack advantage a few minutes later, it would not slow the Wolf Pack's torrid start, and at 4:15, Ty Ronning parked himself off the right post and tapped home a pass from Tanner Fritz to extend the lead to 3-1.
Springfield had chances to cut into the lead, with no greater opportunity than a sharp-angle bid by Hugh McGing from the right-wing corner that clanged the post. Hartford dodged that bullet and then fired another one of their own when Brodzinski extended his goal-scoring streak to six consecutive AHL games when he was the beneficiary of a cross-crease pass by Lauri Pajuniemi at 19:00 of the second, giving the Pack a 4-1 lead into the break.
The Thunderbirds found little in the way of space offensively in the third period, and the Wolf Pack defense locked down the Springfield attack. Fritz finished off the night's scoring by finding an empty netter with 4:09 to play in the third.
The T-Birds return home for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Providence Bruins respectively. Puck drop for each game is set for 7:05 p.m. inside the MassMutual Center.
For more information on the Springfield Thunderbirds and to order tickets, please visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com. To learn more about becoming a Thunderbirds ticket member, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) to speak to a Thunderbirds representative.
Images from this story
Springfield Thunderbirds left wing Hugh McGing vs. the Hartford Wolf Pack
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