Springfield Thunderbirds

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Springfield Thunderbirds
2017–18 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 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.

The market was previously home to:

Season-by-season results

Players

Current roster

Updated November 22, 2017.[7]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
48 Denmark Aagaard, MikkelMikkel Aagaard C L 22 2017 Frederikshavn, Denmark Thunderbirds
51 Canada Beauchemin, FrancoisFrancois Beauchemin RW L 21 2017 Metis-sur-Mer, Quebec Thunderbirds
3 Canada Brown, JoshJosh Brown (A) D R 23 2016 London, Ontario Panthers
16 Canada Buckles, MattMatt Buckles C R 22 2017 Toronto, Ontario Thunderbirds
53 Canada Byron, BlaineBlaine Byron C L 22 2017 Manotick, Ontario Thunderbirds
17 Sweden Bystrom, LudwigLudwig Bystrom D L 23 2017 Örnsköldsvik, Sweden Panthers
5 United States Downing, MikeMike Downing D L 22 2016 Canton, Michigan Panthers
4 United States Erixon, TimTim Erixon D L 23 2017 Port Chester, New York Thunderbirds
26 United States Farnham, BobbyBobby Farnham LW L 28 2017 North Andover, Massachusetts Thunderbirds
10 Canada Fortunus, MaximeMaxime Fortunus D R 34 2017 La Prairie, Quebec Thunderbirds
25 United States Greco, AnthonyAnthony Greco RW R 24 2016 Brooklyn, New York Panthers
28 Canada Grenier, AlexandreAlexandre Grenier RW R 26 2017 Laval, Quebec Panthers
22 Canada Hamilton, RobRob Hamilton D L 23 2017 Calgary, Alberta Thunderbirds
8 Canada Hawryluk, JayceJayce Hawryluk (A) RW R 21 2016 Yorkton, Saskatchewan Panthers
24 Canada Horvat, RyanRyan Horvat (A) LW L 24 2016 Simcoe, Ontario Thunderbirds
41 Finland Lammikko, JuhoJuho Lammikko LW L 21 2016 Noormarkku, Finland Panthers
44 Canada MacKenzie, MattMatt MacKenzie D R 26 2016 Burnaby, British Columbia Thunderbirds
43 Switzerland Malgin, DenisDenis Malgin C R 20 2016 Olten, Switzerland Panthers
38 Russia Mamin, MaximMaxim Mamin F L 22 2017 Moscow, Russia Panthers
33 Canada Montembeault, SamuelSamuel Montembeault G L 21 2017 Quebec, Quebec Panthers
35 Finland Sateri, HarriHarri Sateri G L 27 2017 Toijala, Finland Panthers
27 Canada Schemitsch, ThomasThomas Schemitsch D R 21 2016 Thornhill, Ontario Panthers
37 United States Turgeon, TonyTony Turgeon LW L 28 2017 Grand Forks, North Dakota Thunderbirds
18 Canada Valk, CurtisCurtis Valk C L 24 2017 Medicine Hat, Alberta Panthers
20 United States Wittchow, EddieEddie Wittchow D L 25 2016 Burnsville, Minnesota Panthers

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, as well as former Indians general manager and Falcons founder Bruce Landon, have been honored with banners raised with the retired numbers.

List of team captains

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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