SPRINGFIELD, MA – Curtis Valk and Chase Balisy scored goals in an 83-second span in the first period and a 27-save performance by Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Sam Montembeault helped preserve a 2-1 win over the Providence Bruins Friday night at the MassMutual Center.
Thunderbirds head coach Geordie Kinnear was happy with the performance and thought his team was making plays.
“We had talked about before the game. You can see we’re a young team with skill. I was pleased with the first game and another one-goal game.” Kinnear said.
The Thunderbirds got on the board first a little over halfway through the first period. Newest Thunderbirds Maxim Mamin passed the puck to Jayce Hawrlyuk with a little outside inside pass in the slot. Hawrlyuk shot it at the right place right time and Curtis Valk was able to put in the rebound to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead.
The Thunderbirds extended their lead to two a little over a minute later. Mikkel Aagaard found Balisy, who fired a shot that went past Bruins goaltender Mac Carruth to make 2-0.
Montembeault’s save of the game came during the first period when the Thunderbirds gave up a turnover on the power play when Bruins’ Ryan Fitzgerald stole the puck and went on a breakaway and Montembeault denied Fitzgerald with a save on the right pad.
The Bruins got on the board with 1:48 remaining in the second period as Phil Lane scored on a deflection with assists from Nick Luuko and Chase Witala to make it 2-1.
Kinnear would like to see fewer turnovers and shorter shifts from his team during tonight’s game.
“We want to be a 60-minute hockey team with shorter shifts. I thought shifts were long at times in the second period again and that’s just learning how to win at the pro level,” Kinnear said. “You don’t want to have those losing habits cause it will carry over and then once it gets away from you, you’ll be chasing it and this league is too good to have those type of habits. We want to be a team that plays four lines with pace and play fast and play right. To be able to do that, you have to have short shifts.”
These two teams will play again tonight at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.