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Thunderbirds Outlast Admirals

#AHL | The @ThunderbirdsAHL are going out west where the wind blows tall. Wednesday night the T-Birds rode back-to-back goals and jumped on a sluggish @mkeadmirals squad to a 2-1 victory. @FPHBears brings you the recap

Thunderbirds Outlast Admirals

MILWAUKEE, Wi. – The Springfield Thunderbirds traveled west in search of fame and fortune, looking to break their losing skid on the road as they visited the Central Division’s second-best team in the Milwaukee Admirals. This would be the first of three Western Conference games for the T-Birds this week. Springfield tallied two goals, with the game-winner coming off the stick of Hugh McGing, and held on in the third period as Joel Hofer made 28 saves on 29 shots to bounce back into All-Star form to give his team a 2-1 win. Yaroslav Askarov made 24 saves in the loss.

Neither team got on the board until the second period when Martin Frk continued his strong season with his 12th goal on a twisted wrist shot from the top of the slot. The goal extends Frk’s point streak to four consecutive games, totaling up to five in that span and a near point-per-game pace of 32 in 33 games played. He won the Hardest Shot competition in the American Hockey League’s All-Star Game in 2020, and although he was not selected to the event this February, he’s no doubt an early snub.

Springfield doubled the lead 44 seconds later when McGing tallied his eighth of the campaign when he took a chip pass from Matthew Peca off the boards and found himself in on goal with plenty of space and beat the goaltender up high. McGing went six games without scoring prior to Wednesday’s tilt and his goal gave the Thunderbirds some much needed breathing room as they looked to lock this game down.

However, it’s been a running theme for the Thunderbirds to have close shaves even in victory this season, and this one would prove to be no different as the Admirals cut the lead to one in unlikely fashion with a shorthanded goal. Jordan Gross snuck down the left-wing side as all of Springfield’s players centered around a nifty passing play with Zach Sanford dropping the puck to Tim Schaller, who spotted a wide-open Gross to wind up and blast a shot past Hofer for the defender’s fifth goal of the year.

Springfield’s old habits came to the forefront in the third period as they’d be outshot by a 14-4 margin, but Hofer turned aside all 14 of those shots to get his team back in the win column and deal Milwaukee their third straight loss. The Admirals lost a chance to gain some ground on the Texas Stars for the lead in the Central Division on this night but ultimately fell short as the six-point gap will remain intact for the time being.

“We looked slow the first two periods and they looked fast,” Admirals head coach Karl Taylor said after the game via the Admirals’ social media.” I don’t know if that’s the trap game or coming off the road but we talked about it, we tried to address it during practice yesterday as a group but we looked sluggish. As the game went on I thought we looked better and better and improved, but we didn’t have enough to come back all the way. Too slow of a start and not enough execution.”

The two points netted by the Thunderbirds helps in the frantic Atlantic Division standings pileup. Springfield pulls into a tie with the Hartford Wolf Pack at 37 points, two back of the Bridgeport Islanders for the sixth and final playoff spot in the division. With rival Lehigh Valley picking up points on Wednesday night, the Thunderbirds risked getting left in the dust but open this road swing well against a difficult Milwaukee team that should spark them moving forward.

Springfield travels to Rockford to take on the IceHogs on Friday night, while Milwaukee looks to cool off a red-hot Iowa Wild group that’s won five in a row and is starting to nip at their heels in the Central Division race.

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