SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds fell to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5-4 last night at the MassMutual Center. The Phantoms scored two goals early in the third period. The Thunderbirds tried to rally back but just came up short.
“Played a great game. The penalties a bad time against that team. You know you don’t give them any life. Scored on the power play with that point five seconds or whatever it was. Can’t be more proud of the effort. Guys put in different situations. Guys out of the lineup, trades, etc. and I thought the guys absolutely brought it. This group has played the right way for a long time.” Thunderbirds Head Coach Geordie Kinnear said.
“I felt, for the most part, we played the right way and had a ton of chances Obviously had quite a few shots there. We just got to bury it down at times and put pucks in the back of the net but we got a good couple bounces there but we continued to battle the whole game and that’s a positive sign.” Chase Balisy said.
Before the game, Bruce Landon was honored. Landon was giving his own customized jersey, a Springfield Hockey Hall Of Fame Plaque, and a banner in the rafters at the MassMutual Center.
“He’s still apart of this. This is my first head coaching job. He’s been very supportive. Helped me with a lot of different things. He’s a big part of the history here. To be honest, I am a big guy that believes in history, tradition and he established it early on and I am going to continue it.” Kinnear said.
Newly acquired Thunderbirds defenseman Reece Scarlett got himself on the scoresheet 1:32 into the game. Scarlett put in a wrist shot past Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz to go up 1-0. The Phantoms power play would be the next test for the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds killed the penalty but Danick Martel deflected a shot from Will O’Neil past new Thunderbirds goaltender Adam Wilcox to tie it at 1-1.
The Phantoms would take the lead late in the first period. Martel scored his scored goal of the evening with a wrist shot that beat Wilcox stick side to go up 2-1. The Phantoms took 15 shots on Wilcox in the first period while the Thunderbirds only took 12.
Chase Balisy would tie the game 54 seconds into the second period with an odd man rush with Graham Black when Black fanned on a one-timer. Balisy put in the backhander to tie it at 2-2.
Chris Conner scored at the last second for the Phantoms in the second period on the power play with the Phantoms scoring their first power play goal of the night with a backhander through Wilcox’s legs to make it 3-2.
The Phantoms scored two goals early in the third period by Greg Carey and Colin MacDonald to make it 5-2. After the Phantoms fifth goal, it would end Wilcox’s night. Sam Brittain would come in relief for Wilcox. Brittain made two saves in relief as the Thunderbirds started to rally.
Paul Thompson put himself in front of the net and put the bouncing puck past Stolarz to make it 5-3. Jayce Hawryluk cut the deficit to one a little over a minute later when he received a centering pass from Jared McCann and put it over Stolarz to make it 5-4.
The tempo in game last night was pretty high
” It’s getting down towards the end of the year and playoff hockey and teams are playing with a little more chip and a little more edge to their game. I think we’re doing a good job matching that for a young team so we just gotta continue to battle.” Balisy Said
The Thunderbirds set a franchise record for taking 48 shots on goal in the game.
The National Hockey League Trade Deadline did impact the Thunderbirds this past week with losing Dylan McIlrath, Mike McKenna and Shane Harper. Kinnear felt it has been resilient.
“I go back to the Hartford game. We found out late that you lose players and it’s a 3-1 hockey game guys could’ve easily packed it in but, found a way to score another six on five goal. People play in another position and play an unbelievable hockey game against an elite team in this league. One of the top teams in the league. Can’t be more proud of the effort.” Kinnear said.
Thunderbirds will enjoy a day off today and head to Hershey to take on the Bears at the Giant Center on Sunday afternoon at 5:00 P.M. A team where the Thunderbirds will take it one game at a time and now worry about the standings so much.
“We’re just focused on Hershey now on Sunday and getting ready for that game. Continue coming to the rink every day and get better. I think we’ve done it, for the most part, this year. Guys have gotten better and been better as a team.” Balisy said.