SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Springfield Thunderbirds faced another heartbreaking loss this afternoon at the MassMutual Center. The Thunderbirds had a two-goal lead after two periods. The Phantoms rallied back with three goals in the last 5:30 of the third period to defeat the Thunderbirds by a 4-3 final.
The Thunderbirds power play has struggled with the start of the New Year. They have only scored on the power play once out of 26 opportunities.
The Thunderbirds did not waste anytime at 1:26 into the first period. Matt MacKenzie took a shot with a screen by Brody Sutter that went through Phantoms goaltender, Anthony Stolarz to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead with a power play goal
The Thunderbirds power play was not finished for the afternoon. Taylor Leier received a penalty for interference. Jayce Hawrlyuk setup a play when he took a pass from Thunderbirds defenseman, Mackenzie Weegar. Hawrlyuk took a slap shot as it deflected off of Phantoms defenseman, Samuel Morin. Sena Acolatse put home the rebound to extend their lead with a power play goal to go up 2-0.
The Phantoms got on the board early in the second period. Greg Carey scored his first of two goals on the afternoon on the power play off of a rebound from Thunderbirds goaltender, Reto Berra. That cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Thunderbirds extended their lead for the final time of the afternoon. Kyle Rau moved the puck with a 2-on-1 play with Acolatse. Rau took a shot past Stolarz to extend the lead to 3-1 for the Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds enjoyed a comfortable lead almost 15 minutes into the third period and then the Phantoms started their comeback.
Phantoms defenseman Robert Hagg took a shot from the point as Scott Laughton tipped in a wrist shot past Berra to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Things would go only worst for the Thunderbirds for the rest of the game. Shane Harper was called for tripping with 5:08 left in regulation.
Carey tied the game with his second goal of the afternoon and his 21st of the year with a one-timer four seconds into the Phantoms power play to tie it at 3-3.
The two goals came 27 seconds apart.
Phantoms center, Andy Miele put an execution on this game with a one-timer goal with 1:48 left to play in the game.
Both goaltenders finished with 25 saves in the game.
The Florida Panthers Director of Hockey Operations Dale Tallon announced on Monday that they have called up defenseman Dylan Mcllrath from his conditioning assignment with the Thunderbirds.
Mcllrath logged in six games with the Thunderbirds. He registered a goal and an assist during those six games.
The Thunderbirds are back in action this Friday at the MassMutual Center when they take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 7:05 P.M.