Home Hockey jerseys Troy Grosenick makes 27 saves to lead the Providence Bruins past the Springfield Thunderbirds “Falcons” on Throwback Night, 5-3

Troy Grosenick makes 27 saves to lead the Providence Bruins past the Springfield Thunderbirds “Falcons” on Throwback Night, 5-3

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SPRINGFIELD — Troy Grosenick made 27 saves, while Victor Berglund recorded a season-high two as the Providence Bruins spoiled the Springfield Thunderbirds’ throwback night with a 5-3 win at the MassMutual Center on Saturday night.

The Thunderbirds, who brought back the Falcons jerseys from the 1994-95 season, finally suffered their third straight loss to the Bruins in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,793 fans.

“I liked the way we played,” Springfield coach Drew Bannister said. “We were a bit understaffed tonight because we’re not the same team as a month ago. But we always support our guys, especially since they are always in competition. It was a much better effort than last night, not that we didn’t compete enough, but we just kept going and started getting some rebounds.

“There is a minimal margin of error when it comes to our team now.”

With the victory, Providence (15-9-3-1) has now won seven of its last 11 games to maintain a narrow lead over the Thunderbirds for second place in the Atlantic Division.

Despite Colten Ellis’ record 31 saves, the goaltender has now given up 11 goals in his last three starts for Springfield (18-11-3-1), which sits just a few percentage points behind the Hershey Bears. (18-10-3 -2) for first place.

After starting the season with a bang, the Thunderbirds have lost five of their last six games overall, including three in a row on the road.

With Springfield still trailing early in the final period, Mitchell Balmas helped the Thunderbirds avoid the shutout behind his first career AHL goal with 11:35 left in regulation. However, the comeback ended there as Steven Fogarty and Zach Senyshyn responded with back-to-back goals to help the Bruins claim victory.

Ahead of Saturday’s game, the team’s longtime equipment manager Ralph Calvanese was honored with a pregame ceremony as AHL President Scott Howson and former owner of the Falcons, Bruce Landon, introduced him to the Springfield Hockey Hall of Fame.

Calvanese, known as the “Old Goat,” represented the Springfield AHL hockey franchises between 1975 and 2020 while becoming the first in his position to work 3,000 games in the same city.

Ralph Calvanese was honored with a pre-game ceremony ahead of Saturday’s home game against the Providence Bruins on 01/15/22 (photo courtesy of Springfield Thunderbirds Media).

After an active start on both sides, with 15 combined shot attempts, Josh Wesley’s trigger call secured Providence the game’s first power play attempt. However, the road team failed to seize the opportunity as Ellis fought off his multiple low screens to keep things scoreless for six minutes of action.

But Providence fought back as Curtis Hall located a striding Matt Filipe for a quick wrist near the red face-off circle to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 11:11 left in the first period. The goal was Filipe’s second of the season, while Brady Lyle and Hall each got their third assist.

Going into the intermission, the Bruins held a one-goal lead and a 15-9 shots advantage over the Thunderbirds.

Although the scoring didn’t end there, Jack Studnicka and Berglund quickly tripled Providence’s cushion to 3-0 after a power-play goal on their second attempt with 15:18 left in the second. In their last three meetings, the Bruins have now outscored Springfield, 15-4.

Since the Thunderbirds’ scoring opportunities remained scarce, Tanner Kaspick tried to ignite his team’s offense by dropping the gloves against Nick Wolff to solidify four-on-four hockey. However, their opponents’ penalty kept the Thunderbirds attack in check like the previous period.

After 40 minutes of action, Providence maintained a three-goal cushion while outscoring Springfield, 27-14.

Mackenzie MacEachern prepares for Saturday's game against the Providence Bruins on 01/15/22.

Mackenzie MacEachern prepares for Saturday’s game against the Providence Bruins on 01/15/22 (Photo courtesy Springfield Thunderbirds Media).

Despite two unanswered goals late in the third period from Thunderbirds’ Tyler Tucker and Nate Kallen, it wasn’t enough as the Bruins held on for the win.

Springfield is looking to turn things around on their four-game road trip, starting with back-to-back games against the Charlotte Checkers, starting Tuesday, Jan. 18, from Bojangles Coliseum at 7 p.m.

“Certainly you always try to win hockey games,” Bannister said of his team’s recent struggles. “There are expectations here, but we’ve already reached over 60 players who have come through our roster, and we’re not even halfway through the season. So it’s been difficult, especially since most of our players are sick or new to the system.

“It’s tough going forward as these players are giving us everything they’ve got, but it’s definitely an uphill battle for us.”