SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds scored five unanswered goals to get rid of a 3-0 lead to defeat the Laval Rocket 6-4 with a sellout crowd of 6,793 on David Ortiz night snapping a three-game losing streak.
“We didn’t have the great start. Guys got better. We changed some things up and they had a good second period won the period and I liked the way we handled it in the third period,” Thunderbirds Head Coach Geordie Kinnear Said.
The Rocket would score three unanswered goals late in the first period. Chris Terry answered with a one-timer to beat Thunderbirds goaltender Sam Montembeault. Matt Taormina and Michael McCarron were credited with the assists. The Rocket extended their lead 33 seconds later when Jeremy Gregiore deflected a shot from Jakub Jerabek to go up 2-0. Tom Parisi was also credited with an assist. Chris Terry setup Peter Holland and Holland put in the backhand with 31 seconds remaining to give the Rocket a 3-0 lead. Niki Petti was credited with the secondary assist.
The Thunderbirds would break the Rocket down mentality in the second period. Mikkel Aagaard got the Thunderbirds on the board as he redirected a shot from Eddie Wittchow to go through Rocket goaltender Michael McNiven for his second of the year to make it 3-1. Ryan Horvat was also credited with an assist. McNiven was making his American Hockey League debut. Denis Malgin cut the deficit to one with 5:41 remaining in the second period as he went on a breakaway with a setup from Tim Erixon to beat McNiven to make it 3-2. Matt Buckles received an assist on Malgin’s first goal of the evening.
Chase Balisy tied the game for the Thunderbirds on the power play with a setup from Denis Malgin on the power play to tie it at 3-3. Newly acquired defenseman Ludwig Bystrom received his first assist as a Thunderbird. It was Balisy’s first goal since October 13 against the Providence Bruins.
“When you play against a skilled team that wants the puck you have to play a certain way without it to prevent them from having it and then the frustration kicks in and you have the puck more and your transition goes the other way so I was happy with the second and third. I thought Monte (Sam Montembeault) played a great game. Very composed handled the puck very well. He gave us a chance to win,” Kinnear Said.
Curtis Valk gave the Thunderbirds their first lead of the night 37 seconds into the third period after he deflected a shot from Alexandre Grenier to make it 4-3. Bobby Farnham was credited with an assist. After the fourth Thunderbirds goal, Rocket Head Coach Sylvain Lefebrve challenged the play on the ice. Referee Keith Kaval and Mackenzie Nichol looked at video of the goal and after further review, the officials declared it a good goal.
“It was huge for us. We didn’t get out to the start we wanted but coming out in the second period. We started the way we wanted to play and turned it around. Great second period by us and closing out in the third was big,” Valk Said.
The Rocket received a bench minor for losing the challenge as Antoine Waked served the penalty and the Thunderbirds took full advantage of the power play where Malgin buried a slap shot from the right side to make it 5-3 for the Thunderbirds. Bystrom and Chase Balisy were credited with the assists.
Daniel Carr cut into the Thunderbirds lead with 51.5 seconds remaining for his team-leading eighth goal of the year. Peter Holland and Matt Taormina were credited with the assists.
Curtis Valk capped off the night for the Thunderbirds with an empty-net goal for his second of the night in the closing seconds of regulation to give them a 6-4 lead. Tim Erixon and Bobby Farnham were credited with the assists.
With a sellout last night, Kinnear felt like one of the guys on the ice. He loved nothing more than to play in a competitive atmosphere and play with passion, and as a coach he loved it.
“Its one thing you miss as a player to be able to compete in that type of atmosphere. I thought the fans were great and we responded in the second and third and we want to continue to make the fans proud,” Kinnear Said.
The Thunderbirds will continue their five-game homestand when the Providence Bruins will come to the MassMutual Center this afternoon where the puck will drop at 3:05 p.m.