T-Birds snatch victory late over Checkers to earn split

The AHL matchup between the Springfield Thunderbirds and the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. (Photo courtesy of Scott Kinser/T-Birds)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (9-6) rallied late in regulation to force overtime, then stunned the Charlotte Checkers (5-5-2) with a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday night at the Bojangles’ Coliseum.
After the T-Birds’ offense went dry in the last two games with just one goal in 120 minutes of hockey, Springfield wasted little time putting their troubles aside in the first period Saturday. With Charlotte on a power play less than four minutes into the action, Anthony Greco answered Colin Markison’s shorthanded tally a night ago with one of his own at the 4:00 mark, as he lifted his seventh goal and third shorthanded marker over the shoulder of Anton Forsberg to make it a 1-0 game.
Just 68 seconds later, Henrik Borgstrom ended a personal three-game point drought, pulling a puck off the end boards, navigating to the right circle, and lifting a bar-down bullet over Forsberg to make it 2-0 at 5:08.
The Thunderbirds power play tried to extend the lead on two chances, but Forsberg and Charlotte’s top-five penalty kill stiffened to keep Springfield’s lead to just 2-0 at the end of the first.
At the other end, Philippe Desrosiers picked up right where he left off from his shootout win a week ago against the Penguins, turning away a Steven Lorentz shorthanded breakaway with the Checkers trying to cut the lead in half.
The Checkers showed they had plenty of fight in the middle period, as they answered the T-Birds’ two-goal spurt in the first with two rapid goals in the second. Roland McKeown picked up his first goal of the season by bouncing a snap shot over Desrosiers’ pad from the right point at 10:07 to cut the lead to 2-1.
Then, 37 seconds later, Max McCormick – who set up the McKeown tally – got one of his own as he positioned himself at the net mouth and swept a Kyle Wood rebound behind Desrosiers to tie the score, 2-2 at 10:44.
After both clubs were empty on the power play through the first five periods of the weekend, the Checkers finally connected at the 7:06 mark of the third. Julien Gauthier scooped up a deflected pass in stride on the right wing, drove to the net mouth and slipped a backhander through Desrosiers’ legs to give Charlotte its first lead of the night, 3-2.
The Checkers could have made it a 4-2 game with less than half a period to play when Clark Bishop set up Hunter Shinkaruk on the left wing side. With a wide-open net staring him down, Shinkaruk blew it past the target, allowing Springfield to stay within a goal.
With Desrosiers off to the bench for an extra attacker in the final minute, Brady Keeper and Riley Stillman both hustled to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Blaine Byron pulled the puck off the wall on the left side and moved to the middle of the ice before distributing to Keeper at the right point. With bodies surrounding the goal mouth, Keeper let the shot go and got it to go in behind Forsberg to force overtime with 53.1 seconds to play.
In the extra period, the Thunderbirds ripped the Checkers’ hearts out in chaotic fashion. After Greco defended a pass away to swat the puck down the ice, Daniel Audette raced through center unopposed. After some hesitation, Forsberg chose to dart out of his net to try to win the race to the puck just inside the Charlotte zone. Audette, however, got to the puck first, skated around Forsberg’s right pad and tucked the puck into the gaping net just 1:05 into overtime to give Springfield the 4-3 win.
Greco led all players with three points (1g, 2a), and Springfield picked up its second win in its last four trips to the Bojangles’ Coliseum.
Following this weekend’s road trip, the Thunderbirds return home for the annual T-Birds 101 School Day game on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 10:35 a.m. against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
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 – Courtesy of Springfield Thunderbirds

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