BRIDGEPORT, CONN. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (17-16-2-0) survived a third-period charge from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-16-4-1) to get the game in overtime and eventually come away with a 4-3 win on Saturday night inside the Webster Bank Arena.
For a fourth straight game, the Thunderbirds would neither allow nor give up a first period goal. Philippe Desrosiers was on his A-game from the initial puck drop, as he made a trio of fantastic saves in the slot area, gloving a Grant Hutton mini-breakaway try and kicking out the leg pad to turn away Andrew Ladd on a shorthanded chance and Ryan Bourque on a slot one-timer. He finished his first period with 10 saves.
At the other end, rookie Jakub Skarek looked to build off his first career AHL shutout in his last start, and he did his part in the first period, stopping all eight Springfield shot attempts and helping kill off the lone power play of the first.
The T-Birds second line broke through for two goals in period number two to get Springfield on the right side of the scoreboard. Paul Thompson cashed in first from the goal mouth at 3:47 of the period, as he picked up his own rebound off a fanned shot and shoveled the second chance over the pad of Skarek to give Springfield a 1-0 lead.
Bridgeport would have two chances to tie the score on power plays, but the Springfield kill did its job to keep Bridgeport’s offense at bay, with assistance from the goal post as Bourque rang one off the iron. Desrosiers had 13 saves through two periods.
Even though Springfield could not strike on a 1:36 two-man advantage, they would not be deterred. First, Desrosiers was enormous in making a breakaway pad save on Nick Schilkey, who had just left the box during the 5-on-3 penalty kill for the Sound Tigers. Moments later at the other end, the power play ended, but Jack Rodewald came right down main street and beat Skarek over the glove hand to give the T-Birds a 2-0 lead with just 1:24 left in the frame.
For a third time in the month, a two-goal lead would slip away from Springfield in the third in what would become the Kieffer Bellows show. The second-year pro first cut the lead to 2-1 at 8:01 from the left post as Colin McDonald slid a backhand pass through the crease area to cash in on Bridgeport’s fourth power play of the night.
Just 2:50 later, on a delayed penalty, Josh Ho-Sang moved into the right circle and fired a pass that kicked off a skate and found the net to tie the game, 2-2, at 10:51.
Geordie Kinnear utilized his timeout on the T-Birds bench to settle his troops, and with 4:24 left in the third, Jake Massie – who was playing for the first time since Dec. 4 – jumped up into a 3-on-2 rush, accepted a pass in the left circle from Jonathan Ang, and wristed it through Skarek to give Springfield the 3-2 lead back.
Once again, Bellows played hero with just 27 seconds left on the clock, as he tied the game a second time, beating Desrosiers on the short side to force overtime, 3-3.
Just 25 seconds into overtime, Skarek tried to kickstart his team up ice with a pass from the edge of his crease. Instead, Ethan Prow intercepted the puck, and in one motion, he turned and beat Skarek on a forehand wrister on the glove side to hand Springfield a 4-3 victory.
The win snapped a three-game slide for the T-Birds. Springfield looks to end 2019 on a winning note as they visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Tuesday at 3:05 p.m.
For more ticket information or to become a 2019-20 Springfield Thunderbirds ticket package member, or to purchase single game tickets, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com. – Courtesy of Springfield Thunderbirds