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Thunderbirds look to clinch Eastern Conference Championship tonight

It’s a big night at the MassMutual Center as the Springfield Thunderbirds can punch their ticket to the Calder Cup Finals.
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 1:55 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:36 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - It’s a big night at the MassMutual Center as the Springfield Thunderbirds can punch their ticket to the Calder Cup Finals. The only thing standing in their way is the Laval Rocket.

The puck drops for Game 6 in less than an hour and the organization is hoping for a sold-out crowd.

“The job’s not done. We just have to keep going,” said Springfield Thunderbirds forward Sam Anas.

After taking two of three on the road in the AHL Eastern Conference Finals, the Thunderbirds are back home tonight. The team is coming off an impressive Game 5, where they were down 2-0 before rallying back for the overtime victory.

Thunderbirds head coach Drew Bannister was proud of the way his team played in a hostile environment.

“I really like the way our guys responded to it. I thought we were really composed, especially going down. In two of the games, we were down early,” Bannister explained.

Now, the T-Birds are ready to return to the MassMutual Center, which they affectionately call the Thunderdome. Anas told Western Mass News they look forward to playing in front of their home crowd.

“I think we have a near perfect record at home in this playoff. It’s been awesome. We really feed off them and the energy they bring and the support we get,” Anas noted.

Reaching the Calder Cup Finals may be within Springfield’s reach, but at the end of the day, both players and coaches believe it will take a team effort to win and advance.

“We can’t just rely on a few guys. We change things up. The one thing we’ve struggled with is our power play and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out,” Bannister added.

Anas said, “This series has been kind of back-and-forth. We have a big opportunity in front of our crowd to close it out. We’re looking forward to seizing that opportunity.”

The puck drops for Game 6 drops at 7:05 p.m. If Springfield beats Laval, they’ll advance to the Calder Cup Finals. Should Laval win, the T-Birds will host a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday night.