PROVIDENCE, RI. – The Providence Bruins and Springfield Thunderbirds met up for the second straight game this weekend, this time in Rhode Island, for the latest installment in their season series. The Thunderbirds continue to live dangerously this season but get results as the Bruins’ rally from an early deficit fell short in a shootout, despite ten attempts on the power play in which the home team would strike twice to earn a point but fall on the wrong side of the skills competition, 3-2. Kyle Keyser took the loss in goal with 27 saves while Joel Hofer earned his keep with 38 saves and stopped three-of-four in the shootout.
If there’s anything to be learned about the Thunderbirds this weekend, it’s that no lead is ever truly safe. For the third straight game in as many days, Springfield would vault to a 2-0 lead before seeing it evaporate due to self-inflicted wounds.
The Thunderbirds would get another goal from scorer Will Bitten as he continues to find his stride for his fourth goal of the season, an unassisted shorthanded goal that took a bit over half the game to find. Bitten stole the puck at his own blue line and went all the way before beating Keyser on the stick side to open the scoring.
Will Bitten nets his 2nd shorthanded goal of the season to put the @ThunderbirdsAHL on the board in #SPRvsPRO. pic.twitter.com/5A8gWf4Vak
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) October 30, 2022
Springfield doubled the lead with Tyler Tucker’s first goal of the season. Not a noted goal scorer, the 200th pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft is off to a tremendous pace this season with six points in eight games, including five points in his last five games.
Unlike Springfield’s previous games, this would be a rapid collapse rather than a gradual one, as this game at one point seemed to be leaning towards a regulation win for the Thunderbirds.
The game changed in the final few minutes, when Hugh McGing was issued a high sticking call and a misconduct, which would be followed up with a penalty to Steven Santini only three seconds later, leaving the Bruins with nearly two minutes of a two-man advantage. That’s when Springfield started to hear Vinni Lettieri’s music once more. Similar to Saturday’s game, when he had a clutch power play goal, he had two on Sunday in a span of 45 seconds like something out of a wrestling match. Both penalties resulted in goals for Providence and sent the game into overtime.
Lettieri ties it again on back to back nights. pic.twitter.com/LiGqmhImsB
— Mr. Tenkrat (@PeterTenkrat) October 30, 2022
Much like the previous game, the two teams could not settle the score in the five minute, three-on-three overtime frame and went to the skills competition. It would be the third time in as many games to go beyond 60 minutes for Springfield, and despite Lettieri scoring in the bottom of the second round, the Thunderbirds would go to the brink and survive as Matthew Highmore scored in the third round, while Hofer would be clutch again in stopping Oskar Steen in the bottom of the round. Mathias Laferriere tallied in the fourth round, and Hofer would stop the stellar Fabian Lysell to give the Thunderbirds the extra point.
Springfield once again cut it close with a bizarre statistic of ten minor penalties, equating to 20 minutes’ worth of time spent in the box, with only the overlapping calls in the third that ultimately proved to be the difference.
Springfield was outshot by a 40-30 margin, including a margin of 11-4 in the first period and 10-6 in the third. Despite coming out on the right end of the scoresheet, it’s no doubt that the team needs to improve on limiting the offense of their opponents.
Springfield’s point streak extends to five games, and they’ll look to continue their momentum when they host the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday. Providence exits the game with a three-game point streak and hits the road for three straight games to open November beginning on Wednesday in Utica.
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