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2022 Calder Cup Playoffs

Springfield Advances to Calder Cup Finals

Springfield Advances to Calder Cup Finals

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – On June 15, 2016, on an empty arena floor at MassMutual Center, the American Hockey League welcomed the Springfield Thunderbirds as the newest team to join the Atlantic Division. Six years to the day later, the Thunderbirds were on the ice in their first season as the top affiliate of the St. Louis Blues and clinched the organization’s first trip to the Calder Cup Finals in an impressive 4-0 blanking of the Laval Rocket in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Charlie Lindgren delivered a 34-save shutout for the win, while Cayden Primeau did all he could for Laval with 36 saves in this game.

In six games of this series, Laval held Springfield off the board on their power play in 29 opportunities after Springfield crushed the competition with the man advantage in the postseason in six previous games. Springfield’s response began early when Matthew Peca ripped a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Primeau to make it 1-0 and got the Springfield faithful on their feet just under seven minutes into the game.

Springfield poured on the pressure in the first two periods with 35 total shots. Crisp passes, heavy possession time, and smart shots had Primeau standing on his head to keep the game within reach for his squad. The Thunderbirds broke through just under halfway through the middle stanza when Dakota Joshua took a nice pass from Will Bitten coming over the blue line as the former Rocket forward took a hit to buy Joshua some space, and he beat Primeau with a picture-perfect shot to double the lead for Springfield.

The Thunderbirds weren’t done in this frame, nor was their power-play unit. Nathan Todd tallied his fourth of the postseason on a beautiful pass from Hugh McGing, and Todd pulled the puck nicely back and away from the defense and roofed a shot on the short side to make it 3-0 Springfield. The Thunderbirds went two-for-three on the man advantage in this game, and with their passing on another level, it wasn’t a surprise to see their special teams unit play a huge factor in earning the win.

The rest of the game was the Charlie Lindgren show, as Laval poured on the pressure to try and get back into the game. Lindgren faced 26 shots in the second and third period, including a pair of penalty kills with several shots on goal in each, and came up huge for his team. Springfield clamped down with a number of shot blocks late to support their netminder, and no save for Lindgren was as large as a third-period glove stop on Danick Martel, flashing the leather moving left-to-right to keep the visitors at bay. Lindgren was named the game’s first star for his efforts, particularly as he stayed focused after a quiet start to the game and made a huge difference. It would not be a surprise to see him in the pipes when the Finals open this weekend.

Springfield sealed the deal with Joshua tallying on the empty net late to send the Thunderbirds to the Calder Cup in front of a raucous crowd of 6,793 fans. It was a total team effort by the Thunderbirds as they held off the Rocket offense in a huge response to Game 6 as they did all series long. The Calder Cup Finals get started on Sunday, June 19, in Chicago as the series gets started with two games on Sunday and Monday before shifting back to Springfield for Games 3, 4, and 5 on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. It’ll be a quick turnaround as the series will see seven games, if necessary, played over ten days between the two teams.

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