BELLEVILLE, On. – It was a rematch between the Belleville Senators and the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday night after the two teams went at it head-to-head a day earlier, resulting in Springfield’s first win of the season. The rematch featured a heavy emphasis on defense as Springfield outshot their hosts in the first two periods but failed to register a shot on goal in the third period, but ultimately held off the hosts for a 3-2 decision. Joel Hofer did the heavy lifting in net with 22 saves, including 13 in the third period, and a goal from Dmitrii Samorukov in the second period stood up as the game-winner. Kevin Mandolese took the loss in goal for the Senators with 19 saves.
The Thunderbirds continued their strong play coming off of the win a day ago, registering 11 shots in each of the first two periods and opened the scoring once again with Nathan Todd’s third goal in two games once again assisted by Martin Frk. That combination has been lethal for the T-Birds and a large contributor towards their success. Belleville would come back to tie the score at one with Jake Lucchini’s second goal of the season after the puck would come to him on a rebound from along the goal line on the boards for a power-play marker.
Lucchini gets this one to go from a tough angle 🤯#ForTheB https://t.co/mmFhrIKM9D pic.twitter.com/ZoZtXZnGqk
— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) October 22, 2022
The second period would be all Springfield as Will Bitten would brilliantly handle a lob pass from Hugh McGing over the blue line and beat the goaltender with a nifty move from backhand to forehand to beat the goaltender shorthanded. Samorukov’s goal would come four minutes later as his first of the season nearly two weeks to the day after he was acquired by the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Klim Kostin from the Edmonton Oilers. Through two periods, the T-Birds led 3-1 and outshot the Senators 22-11 in a dominant performance.
Will Bitten nets a shorthanded goal to regain the lead for the @ThunderbirdsAHL in #SPRvsBEL. pic.twitter.com/qDHsZJ1soe
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) October 23, 2022
However, there must have been some kind of pep talk in the locker room to leave it all on the ice for the Senators, who tilted the ice in an attempt to tie the game. The Thunderbirds would not register a shot on goal in the final twenty minutes of action, instead seeing the Senators get all 13 shots and seize the shot lead for the game. Belleville would get on the board with Dillon Heatherington’s first goal of the season, getting the last touch on a rebound from Lucchini’s original shot to pull the home team within one. However, despite the push, the Thunderbirds’ defense led by Hofer would hold strong and not allow another goal for their second straight win by a 3-2 count.
🚨 Our captain gets a piece of it and tallies his first of the season!#ForTheB https://t.co/HlpCa1jDZU pic.twitter.com/XNRntfdNP8
— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) October 23, 2022
The pair of losses puts a damper on an otherwise strong start for the Senators, who had five points out of six coming into this set of games while conversely bringing the Thunderbirds back on track after coming up empty in their first three games. Contributions like McGing, Bitten, and Todd go a long way towards that success, and their seasons will play into Springfield’s success. Belleville gets a chance to right the ship against the Laval Rocket on Wednesday, who the Senators downed twice to start the season, while the Thunderbirds are off until Friday when they take on the Bridgeport Islanders.
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