Thunderbirds making final preparations ahead of season opener

Thunderbirds making final preparations ahead of season opener
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 12:48 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - We are just two nights away from the Springfield Thunderbirds’ first game of the regular season. While the hockey team is getting some final practices in, they are setting their expectations both from a team and a business standpoint.

It’s almost time to face-off. For the first time ever, the Springfield Thunderbirds will be taking the ice as the reigning AHL Eastern Conference champions. Captain and defenseman Tommy Cross is one of 18 returning players and told Western Mass News he and his teammates are ready to go after having a successful season.

“The standings reset. We start over as far as learning our systems and building our game together. It helps because there is a familiarity with guys in the room and the staff,” Cross explained.

The T-Birds went 43-24 last season and fell just three wins shy of its first Calder Cup title. Cross told Western Mass News there are a lot of high standards set for this year.

“We come in every day to work and to live up to those standards and push those standards and expectations higher…We want to meet those standards and I think the fans here really appreciate that when we play a certain style, obviously winning games, but also playing hard-nose hockey,” Cross added.

We also caught up with team president Nate Costa, who told us last season benefitted local businesses as well, especially with the home playoff games.

“The bars and restaurant were all packed, the MGM was packed with the watch parties, and it was a real exciting time for the city,” Costa said.

Throughout the off-season, the franchise gained 477 new season ticket holders, bringing the total to around 1,400 since 2016. The T-Birds are also first in the league in full season sales. With the team raising its Eastern Conference championship banner before the season opener and holding theme nights, Costa expects another big year.

“We’ve got a winning team, which is exciting, and people are excited. You can feel it. I think our sponsors have been great, too. They’ve stepped up to the plate. They had 11 extra games where we were overdelivering and getting a lot of bonus opportunities,” Costa noted.

Even Boomer is hyped up for the new season. As for the team, Cross said they are very confident and looking forward to giving the fans something to cheer about.

“We strive to give that to them and we know that they gave us a lot of energy and passion as well,” Cross said.

The Thunderbirds will drop the puck on the season before a sellout crowd on Saturday night, when they take on the Bridgeport Islanders at 7:05.