Thunderbirds preparing for playoffs as end of regular season nears

Following last year’s historic run to the Calder Cup Finals, the Thunderbirds are ramping up for their second playoff appearance in franchise history.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 4:13 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Following last year’s historic run to the Calder Cup Finals, the Springfield Thunderbirds are ramping up for their second playoff appearance in franchise history.

“It’s going to be entertaining and, like you said, we had success last year, so you never know what’s going to happen, so might be a part of history this year,” said Thunderbirds defenseman Steven Santini.

For the second consecutive season, the Thunderbirds have clinched a spot in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs.

“We know what it takes to win now. We’ve been through it, so we’re gonna use that experience, go into the playoffs confident,” said Thunderbirds center Matthew Peca.

Last year, the first postseason berth in franchise history resulted in a trip to the Calder Cup Finals. With three games left in the regular season, including home games on Friday and Saturday night, there’s still plenty to play for. As of Wednesday, the Thunderbirds are fifth in the Atlantic Division standings with only three points separating third and sixth place. The top two teams receive a bye and the next two teams get home-ice advantage in the best-of-three first round series.

“Hoping to finish strong here this last weekend and put ourselves in a good spot for the playoff push,” Santini added.

Friday and Saturday night are both sellouts.

“We’ve sold out every Saturday since December 30, so the fan support has been there…I think the team is giving the fans something to cheer about too,” said Springfield Thunderbirds president Nathan Costa.

With a strong finish, they’ll secure the chance to play in front of the western Massachusetts faithful at the ‘Thunderdome.’

“The fans have a lot to do with it. It’s just exciting to be here. Playing at home is the best,” Pec added.

If you don’t have a ticket this weekend, there are still plenty of ways to get in on the action.

“We’re going to be hosting a block party in MGM. We’re going to have the games on at MGM all weekend…4 to 6 p.m. for the block party, there’s gonna be a watch party out in the plaza,” Costa explained.

Friday, April 14 vs. Providence Bruins, 7:05 p.m.

  • Pregame concert at 6 p.m. on MassMutual Center concourse for ticket holders
  • Deuces Wild Friday deals through end of first period ($2 Coors Light drafts, $2 hot dogs, $2 sodas) at MassMutual Center for ticket holders
  • Youth jersey giveaway to first 1,000 kids 12-and-under in attendance at the game
  • Those not in attendance can view the game at TAP at MGM Springfield

Saturday, April 15 vs. Hartford Wolf Pack, 7:05 p.m.

  • Block party at MGM Springfield, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. featuring live music, food, drink
  • ‘Pucks and Rec Night’ featuring Jim O’Heir (Jerry Gergich of Parks and Recreation) meet-and-greet at MassMutual Center for ticket holders
  • Photo ops with miniature horse, like the one in Parks and Recreation, at MassMutual Center

Fans can also cheer on the team during the playoffs through their “pay as you play” ticket plan.

“Get the same seat and get to be there for the entirety of the run at the best price and then just keep an eye on our schedule,” Costa noted.