Thunderbirds demolish Sound Tigers, who’ll face Bears in playoffs
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers know their playoff opponent with one game left in the regular season. With a chance to secure home-ice advantage for that playoff series, though, the Sound Tigers were demolished in Springfield, Mass., on Friday night.
Seven different Thunderbirds scored goals in a 7-2 Springfield win at MassMutual Center. The Thunderbirds received nine power plays, and they scored on two of them.
With Hershey’s 6-3 win at Hartford, both the Bears and Sound Tigers can finish no lower than third place in the Atlantic Division, so they are guaranteed to meet in the best-of-five first round of the playoffs, likely starting next weekend.
Bridgeport needs one point in its regular-season finale on Saturday, or needs Hershey to lose one of its last two games, to secure home ice for the Sound Tigers in three of those five games.
This was the third year in a row that Bridgeport went into Springfield to meet an already-eliminated Thunderbirds team with something on the line. A 7-0 whitewash two years ago eliminated the Sound Tigers. A 5-0 loss on March 30, 2018, put Bridgeport’s playoff hopes on life support.
This one potentially only delayed clinching second place in the Atlantic but was no less decisive for a Bridgeport team gearing up for the playoffs. Springfield outshot the Sound Tigers 45-24; Jeremy Smith made 38 saves.
The Thunderbirds led 3-1 after two. The rebound of an Anthony Greco shot caromed in off Paul Thompson at 3:41 of the third to make it 4-1. Greco had a pass carom in off a Bridgeport defenseman at 7:17. Jacob MacDonald scored on a five-on-three five minutes later.
Juho Lammikko was awarded a penalty shot with Springfield killing a two-man Bridgeport advantage with 2:06 left. Lammikko scored, officially short-handed and unofficially the second five-on-three short-handed goal allowed in Sound Tigers history.
Travis St. Denis and Sebastian Aho scored power-play goals for the Sound Tigers.
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THUNDERBIRDS 7, SOUND TIGERS 2
BRIDGEPORT1 0 1—2
SPRINGFIELD2 1 4—7
First Period — 1, Springfield, Dea 17 (Thompson, MacDonald), 4:26. 2, Bridgeport, St. Denis 17 (Bernier, Hutton), 6:16 (pp). 3, Springfield, Mangene 8 (Rockwood, MacDonald), 16:30 (pp). Penalties — Jones, Bpt (cross-checking), :38; Bellows, Bpt (delay of game), 2:25; Lowry, Spr (slashing), 4:47; Bernier, Bpt (interference), 15:17; B.Holmstrom, Bpt, major (fighting), 19:45; Melchiori, Spr, major (fighting), 19:45.
Second Period — 4, Springfield, Bystrom 4 (Ang), 10:58. Penalties — Burroughs, Bpt (hooking), 2:35; Carpenter, Bpt (high-sticking), 6:48; Bridgeport bench, served Bernier (too many men), 14:54; Ang, Spr (delay of game-faceoff violation), 16:43.
Third Period — 5, Springfield, Thompson 26 (Greco, Rockwood), 3:41. 6, Springfield, Greco 29 (Byron), 7:17. 7, Springfield, MacDonald 14 (Dea, Melchiori), 12:20 (pp). 8, Bridgeport, Aho 9 (Lorito), 15:59 (pp). 9, Springfield, Lammikko 4, 17:54 (sh-penalty shot). Penalties — Wotherspoon, Bpt (roughing), 5:11; Lowry, Spr, double minor (elbowing, roughing), 5:11; Stevens, Bpt (tripping), 11:48; St. Denis, Bpt (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:48; Eansor, Bpt (roughing), 13:49; Thompson, Spr (tripping), 14:55; Dea, Spr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:59; Wahlstrom, Bpt, major (fighting), 16:56; Hunt, Spr, minor-major (slashing, fighting), 16:56; Lowry, Spr, misconduct, 16:56; Eansor, Bpt, major (fighting), 19:41; Repo, Spr, major (fighting), 19:41.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 9-7-8—24. Springfield 18-10-17—45.
Power play opportunities — Bridgeport 2 of 6, Springfield 2 of 9.
Goaltenders — Bridgeport, Smith 21-13-4 (45 shots-38 saves). Springfield, Driedger 17-10-2 (24-22).
Attendance — 6,793. Referees — C.Brown, Sheehan. Linesmen — Tobias, Galvin.