Springfield Thunderbirds

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Springfield Thunderbirds
2018–19 AHL season
Springfield Thunderbirds logo.svg
City Springfield, Massachusetts
League American Hockey League
Conference Eastern
Division Atlantic
Founded 1975 (In the NAHL)
Home arena MassMutual Center
Colors Red, navy blue, sky blue, white, gold
                        
Owner(s) Springfield Hockey, LLC.
General manager Eric Joyce
Head coach Geordie Kinnear
Media The Springfield Republican
WHYN NewsRadio 560
CBS 3, 22 News
ABC 40
Affiliates Florida Panthers (NHL)
Franchise history
1975–1982 Erie Blades
1982–1993 Baltimore Skipjacks
1993–2016 Portland Pirates
2016–present Springfield Thunderbirds

The Springfield Thunderbirds are a minor league professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League that began play for the 2016–17 season as the affiliate of the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers. Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Thunderbirds play their home games at the MassMutual Center.

History

In May 2016, following the relocation of the Springfield Falcons to Tucson, Arizona, after the team was sold to the Arizona Coyotes, the AHL's Portland Pirates were sold to a Springfield-based group who intended to relocate the franchise to Springfield for the 2016–17 season.[1][2]

The new owners were a consortium of local business interests seeking to keep hockey in Springfield, and included Paul Picknelly, owner of the Springfield Marriott and member of the family owning Peter Pan Bus Lines, as well as several local hotel owners.[3] A team from Springfield has taken the ice in the AHL and its predecessors for all but seven years since 1926, and in every season since 1954.

The Thunderbirds inherited the Florida Panthers' affiliation with the Pirates. The Panthers assigned their assistant general manager, Eric Joyce, to be Springfield's general manager and named Geordie Kinnear as the new head coach.[4] The Thunderbirds also named Bruce Landon, the Falcons' and Indians' longtime president and general manager, as a consultant, while hiring AHL executive Nathan Costa as their executive vice-president in charge of business operations.[5] The team's new name was announced at a press conference on June 15, 2016. Team management explained that Thunderbirds invokes both the mythological Thunderbird and the United States Air Force presence in the region, such as the Barnes and Westover Air Reserve Bases.[6]

The Thunderbirds played their first game on October 15, 2016, a 4–2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Anthony Greco scored the first goal in team history. On October 22, 2016, the Thunderbirds played their home opener, a 5–4 win, against the St. John's IceCaps. Dryden Hunt scored the first goal on home ice, and MacKenzie Weegar scored the game winning goal in overtime in front of a sellout crowd of 6,793. While the inaugural season did not result in a playoff berth, average attendance rose from 3,108 in the Falcons' last season to 4,618 and including three sellouts.

On February 17, 2018, it was announced that the Springfield Thunderbirds and the MassMutual Center would host the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic and Skills contest, to take place on January 27–28, 2019. This will mark the first AHL All-Star Game in Springfield since 1959. MGM Springfield will be the corporate sponsor and host of the event.

The market was previously home to:

Season-by-season results

Players

Current roster

Updated December 14, 2018.[7]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
21 Canada Jonathan Ang C R 20 2018 Markham, Ontario Panthers
91 Canada Patrick Bajkov RW R 21 2018 Nanaimo, British Columbia Panthers
3 Canada Josh Brown D R 24 2016 London, Ontario Panthers
7 Canada Blaine Byron C L 23 2017 Manotick, Ontario Thunderbirds
17 Sweden Ludwig Bystrom D L 24 2017 Örnsköldsvik, Sweden Panthers
4 United States Mike Downing D L 23 2016 Canton, Michigan Panthers
26 United States Bobby Farnham LW L 29 2017 North Andover, Massachusetts Thunderbirds
25 United States Anthony Greco RW R 25 2016 Brooklyn, New York Panthers
19 United States Jake Horton F R 24 2018 Oakdale, Minnesota Thunderbirds
24 Canada Ryan Horvat LW L 25 2018 Simcoe, Ontario Thunderbirds
29 Canada Dryden Hunt LW L 24 2016 Nelson, British Columbia Panthers
39 Canada Michael Hutchinson G R 28 2018 Barrie, Ontario Panthers
14 Canada Joel Lowry LW L 27 2018 Calgary, Alberta Thunderbirds
47 United States Jacob MacDonald D L 25 2018 Portland, Oregon Panthers
57 United States Matt Mangene (A) F R 29 2018 Manorville, New York Thunderbirds
12 United States Ian McCoshen D L 23 2016 Anaheim, California Panthers
44 Canada Julian Melchiori D L 27 2018 Richmond Hill, Ontario Panthers
33 Canada Samuel Montembeault G L 22 2017 Quebec, Quebec Panthers
92 Finland Sebastian Repo RW R 22 2017 Lahti, Finland Panthers
27 Canada Thomas Schemitsch D R 22 2016 Thornhill, Ontario Panthers
22 Canada Braylon Shmyr LW L 21 2018 Calgary, Alberta Thunderbirds
61 Canada Riley Stillman D L 20 2018 Peterborough, Ontario Panthers
15 United States Paul Thompson (C) RW R 30 2018 Derry, New Hampshire Panthers
37 United States Tony Turgeon LW L 29 2016 Grand Forks, North Dakota Thunderbirds
9 Canada Harry Zolnierczyk (A) LW L 31 2018 Toronto, Ontario Thunderbirds

Retired numbers

Note: Shore's number was retired by the Springfield Indians, and Murray's by the Springfield Falcons; the Thunderbirds continue to honor both numbers. Former AHL President Jack Butterfield and Vice-President Gordie Anziano, longtime Springfield residents, former Indians general manager and Falcons founder Bruce Landon, and Willie O'Ree, the first African American to play in the AHL, have been honored with banners raised with the retired numbers.

List of team captains

Team records

Single season

Goals: Anthony Greco, 29 (2017–18)
Goals by a Rookie: Anthony Greco, 16 (2016–17)
Power Play Goals: Alexandre Grenier, 8 (2017–18)
Short Handed Goals: Anthony Greco, 6 (2017–18)
Assists: Curtis Valk, 40 (2017–18)
Points: Curtis Valk, 60 (2017–18)
Penalty Minutes: Sena Acolatse, 147 (2017–18)
Appearances by a Goalie: Samuel Montembeault, 41 (2017–18)
GAA: Adam Wilcox 2.02 (2016–17)
SV%: Adam Wilcox, .932 (2016–17)
Shutouts: Harri Sateri, 4 (2017–18)

Career

Career Penalty Minutes: 163 Josh Brown
Career Goaltending Wins: 14 Harri Sateri
Career Shutouts: 4 Harri Sateri
Career Games: 149 Anthony Greco
Career Goals: 45 Anthony Greco
Career Short Handed Goals: 9 Anthony Greco

References

  1. ^ "Portland Pirates to leave Maine and move to Springfield, MA". WCSH. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  2. ^ "American Hockey League Announces Franchise Transaction". OurSports Central. May 23, 2016.
  3. ^ "The investors of Springfield's new hockey team revealed". Western Mass News. June 5, 2016.
  4. ^ "Kinnear named coach of Florida's AHL affiliate". AHL. June 7, 2016.
  5. ^ Pignatello, Jim (June 8, 2016). "Springfield AHL team names city native Nathan Costa as Executive VP; Bruce Landon to serve as consultant". Springfield Republican. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  6. ^ Pignatiello, Jim (June 15, 2016). "Springfield Thunderbirds announced as name, mascot of city's AHL franchise". MassLive.com. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  7. ^ "Springfield Thunderbirds Roster". American Hockey League. 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2017-10-04.

External links

  • Springfield Thunderbirds Official Website
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