SPRINGFIELD, MA– The Springfield Thunderbirds have had a rough month in November. The Hershey Bears added to their losing streak as they defeated the Thunderbirds 5-2 last night at the MassMutual Center to extend their losing streak to five games.
Just 4:30 into the opening period, Liam O’Brien successfully used a Springfield defenseman as a screen off the rush to beat Reto Berra with a surprise wrist shot to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.Thunderbirds defenseman Mike Downing responded with a power play goal when he took a point shot and went through Bears goaltender Joe Cannata.
The Thunderbirds had great offensive zone time late in the first period as they cycled the puck up high and defenseman Brett Regner passed the puck over to MacKenzie Weegar. Weegar shot the puck and Shane Harper put home the rebound to give the Thunderbirds their only lead of the evening.
The game’s complexion changed on an innocent looking too many men on the ice minor to Springfield at the 14:39 mark of the frame. Largely quiet in the period, the Bears offense awoke from its slumber quickly on the ensuing power play, as Christian Djoos rifled a wrist shot from the left circle over the arm of Berra at 15:13.
After Djoos’ tying goal, the Bears followed the Thunderbirds’ example in the first period, getting a last-minute, lead-changing tally. This time, Darren Dietz flipped a point shot at Berra’s net. Berra made the first save, but in doing so kicked the rebound right to charging Hershey winger Nathan Walker, who slammed the rebound into the open net to give Hershey a 3-2 lead heading into the final period.
Tempers started to flare in the third period as Thunderbirds left winger Ryan Horvat and Bears center Zach Sill received fighting majors and then 22 seconds later Josh Brown and Mike Sgarbossa for the Thunderbirds along with Garrett Mitchell and Tyler Lewington for the Bears received double minors for roughing.
“The guys were going hard to the net. I guess sometimes that happens. You don’t really mind seeing both teams are playing hard and tomorrow will definitely be probably a little escalated, intensity I am sure.” Harper said
Thunderbirds defenseman Sena Acolatse knows his team will not back down from that.
“I know I am down for all that. If they want to play that kind of game. We’re gonna answer. We’re not afraid to do that. It’s an emotional game. It was a clean game. ” Acolatse said
Sill and Nathan Walker with his second goal of the night added two empty net goals late in the third period for the Bears.
Sena Acolatse felt last night’s game had the playoff atmosphere. Acolatse played for the Portland Pirates last season in the Calder Cup Playoffs and were eliminated by the Bears in the first-round. Acolatse knows his team has to step it up as the emotions were high in the game last night as he feels it will be pretty similar tonight.
Thunderbirds head coach Geordie Kinnear knows he has to find a way to get the job done.
“Its just little mistakes cost us. There’s a big difference between winning and losing. We gotta find those things on a consistent basis and do the right thing. The winning habits and do them over and over again and you’ll be rewarded.” Kinnear said
Kinnear knows his team is not there yet, but with a young group learning how to win, he knows there will be some tough lessons for his team along the way.
The Thunderbirds left after last night’s game for a rematch against the Hershey Bears tonight at the Giant Center at 7:05 P.M.