SPRINGFIELD, MA- Adam Tambellini scored a hat trick as the Hartford Wolf Pack squeaked out a 3-2 victory over their I-91 rival, the Springfield Thunderbirds, last night at the MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds dominated gameplay throughout most of the game, but the final four minutes took a different turn of events. Ed Wittchow was called for holding and the Wolf Pack made their mark when Tambellini scored the game-winning goal with 3:34 remaining in regulation.
“We can’t take penalties. There was no mental collapse. We’ve talked about penalties at key times. We didn’t execute our system in the last penalty kill that ended up in the back of our net. You leave it up in the air for the last five minutes after that and they put the puck to the net and it goes in,” Thunderbirds Head Coach Geordie Kinnear said.
Kinnear felt his team played a great game. He feels his team needs to finish a game and they didn’t finish last night. With a young group, they will have to learn how to play a full 60 minutes.
“That starts with me. I have to do a better job teaching them to stick with it. Stick with the plan and not play on your heels. Keep forechecking, keep going to work, it doesn’t matter what happens the shift before. You have to come out and play on your toes,” Kinnear added.
Denis Malgin got the Thunderbirds on the scoreboard first when Jayce Hawryluk set up the scoring chance. Malgin fired a laser shot past Wolf Pack goaltender Brandon Halverson to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead.
Tambellni scored his first goal of the evening on a two-man advantage for the Wolf Pack with a one-timer that beat Thunderbirds goaltender Reto Berra to tie it at 1-1.
Matt Mackenzie received a breakaway chance during the second period after getting out of the penalty box. He was denied by Halverson.
On the other end, Wolf Pack defenseman Spiro Goulakos had a breakaway attempt of his own but Berra denied him with a sliding pad save.
Hawryluk gave the Thunderbirds the lead with less than eight minutes left in regulation at 2-1.
“You don’t expect to lose a game like that when you’re up 2-1 with four minutes left so that hurts.” Hawryluk said.
The heartbreak would start when Tambellini took a feed from Nicklas Jensen and beat Berra glove side to tie the game at 2-2.
Tambellini scored the hat trick and the game-winning goal 34 seconds later when he darted to the slot, deflected a Chris Brown pass, and beat Berra again glove slide to go up 3-2.
The Wolf Pack have now won their last three out of four games. Wolfpack goaltender Brandon Halverson made 32 saves in the game.
The Thunderbirds will look to rebound when they take on the Utica Comets tonight at the MassMutual Center at 7:05 P.M.