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Thunderbirds win Eastern Conference Championship, head to Calder Cup Finals

The Springfield Thunderbirds are AHL Eastern Conference Champions and are heading to the Calder Cup Finals.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 9:30 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 11:36 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Springfield Thunderbirds are AHL Eastern Conference Champions and are heading to the Calder Cup Finals.

Heading into Game 7 on Wednesday, the Thunderbirds were 0-29 throughout the series on power plays, but that streak was broken at 6:54 into the first period when Matthew Peca scored on Rocket goalie Cayden Primeau to give the T-Birds a 1-0 lead.

At the 9:33 mark in the second period, Dakota Joshua scored to extend the lead to 2-0. Nearly four minutes later, at 13:31 into the second period, Nathan Todd scored to make it a 3-0 lead for the Thunderbirds.

They weren’t done scoring yet. With :41 seconds left in the game, Dakota Joshua scored his second goal of the game on an empty Laval net to increase Springfield’s lead to 4-0.

Thunderbirds goalie Charlie Lindgren faced 40 shots over 60 minutes of play and didn’t allow any past him to secure the shutout.

Head Coach Drew Bannister said the team turned around and came out strong.

“I’m not surprised by the way we came out and the way we played,” Bannister told us. “You know, for me, for the first 40 minutes, we carried a majority of the play, and really, that’s the play that we kind of expected from our group and they expect from themselves, and I’ve never been surprised by how this group bounces back after when they maybe haven’t played that well, and for the most part, we’ve played really good hockey in this series.”

The Thunderbirds win the series 4-3 and will now face the Chicago Wolves in the Calder Cup Finals. It will mark the first time in 31 years that Springfield’s AHL team will play for the Calder Cup.

The Calder Cup Finals schedule is as follows:

  • Game 1: Sunday, June 19 at Chicago, 4 p.m. ET
  • Game 2: Monday, June 20 at Chicago, 8 p.m. ET
  • Game 3: Wednesday, June 22 at the MassMutual Center, 7:05 p.m. ET
  • Game 4: Friday, June 24 at the MassMutual Center, 7:05 p.m. ET
  • Game 5: Saturday, June 25 at the MassMutual Center, 7:05 p.m. ET (if necessary)
  • Game 6: Tuesday, June 28 at Chicago, 8 p.m. ET (if necessary)
  • Game 7: Wednesday, June 29 at Chicago, 8 p.m. ET (if necessary)

Tickets to the three home games at the MassMutual Center are now on-sale.

Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have latest at 10 p.m. on FOX 6 and on Eleven@11 on ABC40.