The Springfield Thunderbirds (1-0-0-0) used a pair of power-play goals to elevate the home side to a 2-1 victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack (1-1-0-0) on Saturday night inside a sold-out crowd of 6,793 inside the MassMutual Center.
Head coach Drew Bannister’s team came out skating with heart and pure intensity before the sellout crowd. With 13:35 left in the 1st period, a tripping penalty on Hunter Skinner gave the T-Birds the game’s first power play.
It took the T-Birds just eight seconds to strike on their first man-advantage opportunity of the season, as Nikita Alexandrov patiently waited at the top of the circle and deflected a Scott Perunovich offering in behind Adam Huska to make it 1-0 at 6:33 of the opening period. A physical period would continue to manifest itself, and Tim Gettinger of the Wolf Pack opened the door for more Springfield chances when he was whistled for a four-minute double minor. This time, though, the Hartford penalty kill stiffened, and the T-Birds had to settle for a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Early in the second, Hartford answered with a power-play tally of their own to even the score. Morgan Barron struck with a one-time wrist shot, set up by Jonny Brodzinki and Zac Jones just 1:16 into the middle frame. Power plays continued to be the running theme of the evening, but the penalty kills stiffened in the middle frame.
After facing a strong pushback from the Wolf Pack in the second, the T-Birds came out buzzing in the third en route to a 20-shot period. It was a grueling slugfest with penalties aplenty, but the T-Birds’ power play ultimately provided the fatal punch to Hartford when Nathan Todd set up Matthew Peca in between the hash marks, and Peca’s elevating wrist shot went bar-down and past Huska to make it 2-1 at the 6:08 mark of the third.
From there, Joel Hofer held down the fort in a battle between two goaltenders at the top of their games. Huska finished with 40 saves in the losing effort, while Hofer stopped 25 of 26 to earn his first win as a Thunderbird.
The Thunderbirds look to finish the weekend on a high note on Sunday afternoon as they welcome the Bridgeport Islanders for a 3:05 p.m. puck drop.
For more information on the Springfield Thunderbirds and to order tickets, please visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com