SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (11-2-2-0) won a defensive battle with strong penalty killing and goaltending shining through in a 2-1 triumph over the Bridgeport Islanders (5-8-1-2) on Saturday night at the MassMutual Center. The win was Springfield's third in a row and moved them to nine games over the .500 plateau while also maintaining their first place positioning in the Atlantic Division.
The Thunderbirds rebounded from a subpar first-period performance on Friday night with a charge out of the gates on Saturday, with 16 first stanza shots and three dangerous power-play chances.
The first of the three advantages proved to be the one to open the scoring as Hugh McGing slipped into a soft area outside the crease area, where Sam Anas found him with a pass through heavy traffic. With all day to make his decision, McGing patiently picked the top left corner on Cory Schneider to make it 1-0 for the home side at 9:45 of the period.
Springfield kept things quiet in their own zone and thus made the first period an easy one for Charlie Lindgren, who blocked all nine shots that came his way. The Thunderbirds also stayed out of the box for the full duration of period one.
Schneider kept the Thunderbirds lead at a manageable 1-0 clip with a strong finish to the opening period and an even better start to the middle period, as his post-to-post denial on Mackenzie MacEachern early in the middle period kept Springfield from extending the lead. That proved pivotal as Cole Bardreau wound up tying the score, 1-1, at the 8:02 mark. Jeff Kubiak took a pass from Kyle MacLean in the slot area and fired a one-timer off the defending T-Birds in front of the goal. Bardreau happened to be cruising down the right-wing side and found the puck on his blade with an open net, and the winger cashed in his first goal of the season.
The T-Birds answered back just 2:15 later with what ended up being the final goal of the game when Logan Brown stole a breakout pass in the right circle, nimbly angled his body toward the net, and hit Nathan Walker with a saucer pass between the hashmarks. Walker banged home his second goal against the Islanders to restore the Springfield lead.
Power plays were plentiful for both teams, as Bridgeport had three chances over the final 24 minutes of game action to tie the score, but Lindgren and the Springfield penalty kill fared superbly to shut the door on the Islanders to improve to 4-0-1-0 in the season series against their division rival. Springfield's power play finished the night 1 out of 6.
The two clubs reconvene on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport to complete the T-Birds' three-game weekend.
For more information on the Springfield Thunderbirds and to order tickets, please visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com. To learn more about becoming a Thunderbirds ticket member, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) to speak to a Thunderbirds representative.