SPRINGFIELD, MA- Curtis Valk scored two goals and goaltender Sam Montembeault made a career-high 38 saves to help the Springfield Thunderbirds defeat the Hartford Wolf Pack 5-3 last night at the MassMutual Center.
“Thought we played very well to start the game. We went out and pushed for the first goal and we didn’t wait to see what was going to happen. We try to go make it happen.” Thunderbirds head coach Geordie Kinnear said.
Anthony Greco opened up the scoring for the Thunderbirds a little over halfway in the first period. Dryden Hunt setup Greco when he took a wrist shot and went off of Greco’s leg and past Wolf Pack goaltender Alexandar Georgiev to go up 1-0. Henrik Haapala was credited with the second assist on Greco’s goal.
Curtis Valk extended the lead late for the Thunderbirds with less than four minutes remaining in the first period when he took a shot over the shoulder of Georgiev to go up 2-0. Dryden Hunt and Henrik Haapala were credited with their second assists of the night.
Thunderbirds defensemen Reece Scarlett received a couple penalties late in the first period as he was called for slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct. The Wolf Pack would go to answer in the second period. Vinni Lettieri put one past Montembeault 12 seconds into the second period to get the Wolf Pack to cut the lead down to one. Ryan Sproul and John Gilmour were credited with the assists on Lettieri’s goal.
The Wolf Pack would then receive a two-man advantage as Greco was called for slashing. Joe Whitney tied the game with a backhand with help from Cole Schneider to tie it at 2-2. Ryan Sproul received his second assist of the game.
The Thunderbirds retook the lead in the closing seconds of the second period. Alexandre Grenier setup Jayce Hawryluk with a pass that went off the glove of Georgiev to give the Thunderbirds a 3-2 lead. Juho Lammikko received the secondary assist on the goal by Hawryluk.
The Thunderbirds extended their lead when Curtis Valk scored his second of the night with a snap shot past Georgiev to go up 4-2. Henrik Haapala would received his third assist of the game.
Thunderbirds defenseman Mike Downing scored his first of the year with an empty-net shorthanded goal unassisted to give the Thunderbirds a 5-2 lead.
Joe Whitney added his second goal of the night on the power play for the Wolf Pack in the final minute of regulation. Scott Kosmachuk and Dan Catenacci were credited with the assists.
Thunderbirds goaltender Sam Montembeault finished with a career-high 38 saves to score his first professional win.
“Another amazing game by Sammy (Montembeault). He’s been great all year. It’s been tough on him not getting that first win so it was nice for him to get it tonight and hopefully as that confidence that he has been playing with grows he keeps it going.” Valk said.
The Thunderbirds will travel to Webster Bank Arena to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers tonight and then round out the weekend with a rematch with the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday at the XL Center.