Thunderbirds preparing to begin Calder Cup playoff run
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The Thunderbirds are preparing to hit the ice for their first-ever postseason appearance and hoping to ultimately deliver a hockey championship to Springfield.
“Just to get my extra ticket as soon as possible because I wanna get a good seat next to my season tickets…It’s an exciting time for all of us fans,” said Thunderbirds season ticket holder Daniel Panagos.
Fans stopped by the MassMutual Center on Wednesday morning to secure their seats for the first Thunderbirds home playoff game in franchise history.
“It’s pretty special to be a part of, something that we’ve been working towards all year. It’s obviously been a goal of ours and we’re excited to get it started and get things rolling,” said Thunderbirds forward Sam Anas.
The T-Birds wrapped up their regular season schedule last week and after clinching a first-round bye, they now await their opponent in the Atlantic Division semifinals.
“I think those opportunities, they come fewer than maybe some young guys understand and so I think anytime you make it to the postseason, you have to make the most out of it,” said Thunderbirds goalie Charlie Lindgren.
Depending on who they play, Springfield could host their first home game at the MassMutual Center as early as Tuesday, May 10. In the meantime, Anas told Western Mass News that they’re maintaining a competitive mindset in practice.
“We’re not afraid to get each other’s face and be competitive with each other…[Head coach Drew Bannister’s] done a good job of holding us accountable in practice and getting the most out of us,” Anas explained.
This will be Captain Tommy Cross’ eight Calder Cup Playoff appearance, but his first in Springfield. Cross said after three straight shutouts to close out the season, morale is high.
“We already had confidence in our game. I think the end of the regular season gave us even more confidence, but…once the puck drops for playoffs, I think everything resets, so you have to earn that confidence back,” Cross said.
Anas credits the western Massachusetts faithful for bringing the energy, which has propelled the T-Birds to the most home wins in the AHL this season.
“They’ve really helped us. I think that’s one of the big reasons why we’ve been so good on home ice and the support we’ve gotten throughout the year. Win or lose has just been through the roof,” Anas noted.
As for Lindgren, he’s taking it one game at a time, but all eyes remain on hoisting the Calder Cup.
“Big picture, I don’t see why we couldn’t go all the way. I think, again, we have a good mix of everything you need,” Lindgren said.
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