SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (12-8) never gave up in a hard-fought tilt on Saturday night against Providence Bruins (10-7-1-2) before a sellout crowd on “Hockey Fights Cancer Night” at the MassMutual Center, and they eventually pulled off a 5-4 overtime triumph.
Things started about as badly as could be imagined for the T-Birds, as Robert Lantosi wasted just 19 seconds before wristing a right-circle try over the shoulder of Philippe Desrosiers to give Providence a nearly-instant 1-0 advantage.
That first strike would wind up being the only bright spot in the first period for the visitors, as the Thunderbirds’ attack unleashed its fury shortly thereafter. At the tail-end of a successful penalty kill, Dryden Hunt maneuvered down the left wing in a 2-on-1, and Jack Rodewald crashed the near post to tap home the saucer pass to tie the game, 1-1, at 2:59.
Just 2:45 later, Blaine Byron extended point streak to four games as he scooped up a loose puck behind the net of Bruin goaltender Max Lagace and stuffed a backhanded wrap-around into the net on the far side to give Springfield the 2-1 lead at 5:44.
The Thunderbirds’ 22-shot barrage in the opening period would not end with two goals, as Riley Stillman jumped into a rush to tap home a centering pass from Paul Thompson at the 11:09 mark, making it a 3-1 game, a score that held up into the intermission. Desrosiers recovered from his early goal against to stop the next nine shots that came his way in the first 20 minutes.
The Bruins, undeterred, battled back with a pair of goals in the second period, first from a Joona Koppanen redirection at the 5:32 mark to cut the lead to 3-2. Scott Conway followed at 15:56 with a snapper that beat Desrosiers to bring the score to 3-3 going into the third.
Thompson would break the tie himself and end an eight-game goal scoring drought with a one-timer on the power play at 6:36 of the third, beating Lagace through the five-hole off tic-tac-toe passing from Byron and Owen Tippett.
Providence desperately search for an equalizer, and with Lagace on the bench, Jack Studnicka one-touched a shot from the slot area under Desrosiers’ legs to force overtime with 1:29 to play.
Springfield continued to find overtime magic as Brady Keeper fired a forehand shot from the bottom of the right circle that squeaked in past Lagace on the short-side, giving the Thunderbirds their fifth straight win past regulation time and improving to 5-0 in the extra session.
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