SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Springfield Thunderbirds’ bid for three wins in a row came to an end yesterday afternoon as the Rochester Americans knocked them off for the 3-2 win at the MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds struck first on the scoreboard thanks to Shane Harper, playing in his first game of the season for the team after appearing in 14 games with the Florida Panthers, fed Stephen MacAulay with a nice backhand pass. MacAulay finished off his own rebound to give Springfield the early lead.
The Americans responded as defenseman Mac Bennett, who was playing forward in the game, fired a wrist shot that beat Thunderbirds’ goaltender Mike McKenna glove side to even the score at 1-1 with 6:28 remaining in the first period.
Rochester winger Nick Baptiste then put on quite a show, scoring two goals just 48 seconds apart. Baptiste buried a feed from Cole Schneider on an odd man rush, then later beat McKenna again with a wrister from the faceoff circle. In the blink of an eye, the Americans were up 3-1.
The Thunderbirds desperately searched for a spark in the second period, firing 12 shots on goal, but could not beat Americans goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Springfield was finally able to fine twine to cut the deficit to one with 14:53 remaining in the third period as defenseman Brett Regner put it passed Ullmark to make it 3-2.
A couple of late penalties eventually killed any momentum that Springfield found with the Regner goal, and Rochester was able to hold on for the 3-2 victory. Ullmark made 25 saves on 27 Thunderbird shots in the win.
The Thunderbirds will prepare for three games this week as they travel to take on their I-91 rival, the Hartford Wolf Pack on Wednesday and then the Utica Comets on Friday, before returning home to host the Providence Bruins on Saturday.