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Charlotte Checkers

Thunderbirds Struggles Continue In Loss To Checkers

Thunderbirds Struggles Continue In Loss To Checkers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – It’s been a difficult month of November for the Springfield Thunderbirds. After righting the ship in October, the Thunderbirds have struggled in the second month of the season, and their latest setback came at the hands of the Charlotte Checkers, who edged their host at MassMutual Center by a 4-1 count on Saturday night. The Checkers got goals from a pair of veteran scorers in Gerry Mayhew and Zac Dalpe, and a pair of empty net goals sealed the deal. Joel Hofer took the loss with 18 saves while Mack Guzda earned the win with 33 stops.

Despite the loss, the Thunderbirds did their best to reverse their trends in recent games, namely their third period which has been a sore spot for much of the season. Springfield didn’t get the chance to capitalize on an early lead as they’ve been able to build in this stretch, as Charlotte scored the only two goals of the opening 40 minutes. Mayhew scored his third goal of the season on a deflection in front of Hofer at the top of the crease. The Checkers followed up that goal with one from Dalpe on the power play in the second period, his seventh of the season on another nice deflection at the net front off of a shot from Michael Del Zotto that ultimately stood up as the game-winner in this one.

Springfield seemed to relish the chance to make a comeback rather than sit on a lead, outshooting the visitors in each of the three periods and finally broke through for a goal on Guzda with Hugh McGing’s third goal of the season. Despite a nice rally, the Thunderbirds would get burned twice with the net empty with goals from Aleksi Heponiemi and Lucas Carlsson to seal the game at 4-1. The Thunderbirds have dropped six of seven games in the month of November and have only earned three points in the month, and their position in the standings has dropped as a result to a tie for fifth place in the Atlantic Division with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Conversely, the win for Charlotte is their third in a row and lifts them to a tie in points with the Hershey Bears for second in the division with 20 points. After starting the season undefeated for a period of time, the Checkers dropped five of six games but have since corrected course to win four of their last five on their way to their current position in the standings. It seems to have been a case of two teams heading in opposite directions in this one. Speaking of big matchups, Sunday features a big standings tilt as the tie between the Phantoms and Thunderbirds will be broken as the two teams go head-to-head at MassMutual Center on Sunday afternoon. Charlotte meets up with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday for the first of two games at Mohegan Sun Arena before Thanksgiving.

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