BELLEVILLE, Ont. – The Springfield Thunderbirds are back in the win column at long last on Friday evening as familiar faces broke through with goals to lift the T-Birds to a 5-2 win over the Belleville Senators. Nathan Todd scored a pair of goals along with Will Bitten, Hugh McGing, and Drew Callin en route to the first win of the season for Springfield in their fourth game. Vadim Zherenko earned his first win in his first American Hockey League game with 30 saves, while veteran Antoine Bibeau suffered the loss with 24 stops.
Springfield jumped out of the gate with goals from Bitten and McGing, with Bitten assisting on the second goal to give him a multi-point game after coming up empty in his three games played. The duo of players was instrumental in providing the Thunderbirds essential goals during the postseason earlier this spring, and their success has been Springfield’s success in recent time. The second period proved to test Springfield’s resolve as the teams fired the majority of shots in the middle stanza, with the Thunderbirds leading 14-12 in the period but only striking once. Belleville would get goals from Lassi Thomson and Cole Reinhardt, sandwiching a tally from second-year Springfield forward Drew Callin.
In the third period, Springfield pulled away with the game off of a goal from Nathan Todd just over three minutes into the frame before he’d cap the game with an empty netter to seal the deal at the end. Free agent acquisition Martin Frk tallied assists on both of Todd’s goals for his first two points in a Thunderbirds jersey after joining the team on Wednesday for their game in Laval. Frk was one of the organization’s biggest free agent acquisitions of the summer, as he excelled in the last AHL All-Star Skills Competition showcases in the early stages of 2020 with a 109 MPH slapshot and is coming off of a career year in Ontario with 40 goals and 73 points as a massive piece in turning around Springfield’s fortunes in the early stages of this season.
knock knock, it’s the Toddfather 🚪 pic.twitter.com/9zg07lU5HE
— Springfield Thunderbirds (@ThunderbirdsAHL) October 22, 2022
Zherenko’s strong performance in his first AHL game is huge for the Thunderbirds as they turn the reins in the crease to the youngsters after veteran Charlie Lindgren earned a promotion to the NHL. Friday’s game marked the first time that the Thunderbirds utilized a different netminder after starter Joel Hofer suffered losses in three straight games. On the Belleville side, Friday marked the first regulation loss for Troy Mann’s group with plenty of positives to take away such as a perfect penalty kill, but only one conversion on six power play opportunities stings to ultimately help foil the team’s comeback including a four-minute power play on a double minor call on McGing. The two teams won’t have to wait to get back at it, as they’ll rematch again in Belleville on Saturday evening at 7:05 PM EST.
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