Thunderbirds victorious in Fan Appreciation kickoff game

Thunderbirds victorious in Fan Appreciation kickoff game
Published: Apr. 23, 2022 at 11:23 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -The Springfield Thunderbirds took home a win Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The team is playoff bound with just three regular season games left. Many fans flocked to the MassMutual Center to show their support for the T-Birds.

The energy and excitement was seen and felt throughout the MassMutual Center during Saturday’s game.

It was a thrilling night for the Springfield Thunderbirds as they faced the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in their second to last regular home game of the season.

“The Thunderbirds are going to the playoffs, so it’s all good, they got to keep winning, it’s been a while since there’s been a winning team, so they got to keep it up and do some damage,” said Ludlow resident Mike Salvas.

Fans filled the MassMutual Center with many kicking off the day at a block party in downtown Springfield where they enjoyed live music, food and drinks, face painting and street hockey. Actor Christopher McDonald, who is known for his role as Shooter McGavin in the 1996 film ‘Happy Gilmore’ was also in attendance. Western Mass News caught up with Thunderbirds super fan, Tomeka Ligon, ahead of the action.

“Normally, it’s a little bit more compact than normal, but everyone is having a great time, it’s always a good time to come out and support the local hockey team,” said Ligon.

The support from fans was heard throughout the arena, helping the T-Birds skate to a win. Ligon said it feels good to have a sense of normalcy after two years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve been a season ticket holder going on three years now, it was a real bummer the pandemic shut everything down last season, but as you can see, everyone is here, everyone is pumped because for the first time in Thunderbirds history we are going to the playoffs which I’m really excited about,” said Ligon.

Thunderbirds captain, Tommy Cross, scored the teams first goal of the game and forward James Neal broke a 1-1 tie as the first period came to a close. The third and final goal of the night was from Thunderbirds forward William Bitten to win the game three to one against the Penguins.

“It feels great, we’re back in the playoffs having a good run, we’re having a good season and they did very well this year.” said Aaron Davenport of West Springfield.

“Go Thunderbirds!” said Ligon.

The team’s last home game is set for Sunday when the Thunderbirds will match up against the Providence Bruins, before the regular season concludes with a two-game road trip. Fans will also be invited down to paint the ice at the end of the game in celebration of another season of Thunderbirds hockey. The playoff bracket will be revealed in one week.