SPRINGFIELD, MA – Anthony Greco’s two goals in the third period and goaltender Adam Wilcox’s 34-save performance helped the Springfield Thunderbirds defeat the Albany Devils 3-0 yesterday afternoon at the MassMutual Center. Wilcox earned his second straight shutout at home making it three on the year.
Thunderbirds Head Coach Geordie Kinnear told reporters after Sunday’s game “I was pretty impressed with both teams. It’s three in three. They traveled from Syracuse last night us from Providence. I think it was an honest hockey game with good effort by both teams.”
The first period was scoreless but both goaltenders were busy as Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood faced 11 shots while Wilcox faced 14. Wilcox made one of his best saves of the night in the first period when he went to the right side to make a blocker save off of a rebound from Devils Jan Mandat that left the game scoreless.
The Thunderbirds got on the board early in the second period. Kyle Rau tried to do a wraparound but was not successful with Ed Wittchow fired a shot and going past Blackwood for his first professional goal to make it 1-0. Anthony Greco received an assist on Wittchow’s goal.
“It was a cool feeling. I don’t score many goals so for one to fall is definitely a bonus for me. I pride in taking care of our own end and anything else that comes my way after that is just a bonus so it was cool to get that.” Wittchow said.
Greco gave the Thunderbirds insurance in the third with a shorthanded goal 1:13 to make it 2-0 after missing the shot on net. Greco stole the puck from the left wall and beat Blackwood.
The third period is where the tempo started to get faster and the tempers started to flare between both teams.
“In a tight game like this when both teams are playing physical — we played each other on Friday so maybe the bloods boiling a little bit from previous play, whatever that’s hockey and that’s the way we want it. It’s easy to get into a game when it’s very physical like that. That’s what make its fun.” Wittchow said.
Greco scored an empty-net goal with 47 seconds left in regulation to make it 3-0.
Adam Wilcox earned his second straight home shutout with a 34-save performance. It is safe to say he has made an immediate impact since being acquired for Mike McKenna earlier this month.
“I thought the team came out hard. They worked hard and took our chances and thought we just kept working throughout the game and finally got a couple goals so it was a good game.” Wilcox said.
Sunday’s game was the final time the Albany Devils would take on Springfield. The Devils will be relocating from to Albany to Binghamton for the 2017-18 American Hockey League season. The New York Capital holds a special place for Kinnear, who spent a lot of time as a player and an assistant Coach. There is always the one memory that will stick out and that was winning the Calder Cup in Albany back in the 1994-95 campaign.
“I always think when you win Calder Cups. I won a Calder Cup there and the group you win with you’ll always remember. There’s quite a few guys you see around the league and its like family to you. That’s the memory the guys I played with went through a lot of ups and downs but ultimately when you go through that journey and win the championship. It’s forever lasting and it will stick with me forever.” Kinnear said.
The Thunderbirds will hit the road with games in Rochester against the Americans on Friday and Sunday and a trip to Toronto to take on the Marlies on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds will be back in action at the MassMutual Center on Wednesday, March 29, when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers come to town for a 7:00 puck drop.
NOTES: Before Sunday’s game, the Thunderbirds signed defenseman Colton Saucerman to a professional tryout agreement after he was called up from the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL. Saucerman played in 42 games with the South Carolina Stingrays, before being traded to Manchester. While with the Monarchs, he played in five games registering three assists.