Springfield Thunderbirds

The Springfield Thunderbirds are a minor league professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League that began play for the 2016–17 season as the affiliate of the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers. Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Thunderbirds play their home games at the MassMutual Center.

Springfield Thunderbirds
2019–20 AHL season
CitySpringfield, Massachusetts
LeagueAmerican Hockey League
ConferenceEastern
DivisionAtlantic
Founded1975 (In the NAHL)
Home arenaMassMutual Center
ColorsRed, navy blue, sky blue, white, gold
                        
Owner(s)Springfield Hockey, LLC.
General managerEric Joyce
Head coachGeordie Kinnear
CaptainPaul Thompson
MediaThe Springfield Republican
WHYN NewsRadio 560
CBS 3, 22 News
ABC 40
AHL.TV (Internet)
AffiliatesFlorida Panthers (NHL)
Franchise history
1975–1982Erie Blades
1982–1993Baltimore Skipjacks
1993–2016Portland Pirates
2016–presentSpringfield Thunderbirds

History

In May 2016, following the relocation of the Springfield Falcons to Tucson, Arizona, after the team was sold to the Arizona Coyotes, the AHL's Portland Pirates were sold to a Springfield-based group who intended to relocate the franchise to Springfield for the 2016–17 season.[1][2]

The new owners were a consortium of local business interests seeking to keep hockey in Springfield, and included Paul Picknelly, owner of the Springfield Marriott and member of the family owning Peter Pan Bus Lines, as well as several local hotel owners.[3] A team from Springfield has taken the ice in the AHL and its predecessors for all but seven years since 1926, and in every season since 1954.

The Thunderbirds inherited the Florida Panthers' affiliation with the Pirates. The Panthers assigned their assistant general manager, Eric Joyce, to be Springfield's general manager and named Geordie Kinnear as the new head coach.[4] The Thunderbirds also named Bruce Landon, the Falcons' and Indians' longtime president and general manager, as a consultant, while hiring AHL executive Nathan Costa as their executive vice-president in charge of business operations.[5] The team's new name was announced at a press conference on June 15, 2016. Team management explained that Thunderbirds invokes both the mythological Thunderbird and the United States Air Force presence in the region, such as the Barnes and Westover Air Reserve Bases.[6]

The Thunderbirds played their first game on October 15, 2016, a 4–2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Anthony Greco scored the first goal in team history. On October 22, 2016, the Thunderbirds played their home opener, a 5–4 win, against the St. John's IceCaps. Dryden Hunt scored the first goal on home ice, and MacKenzie Weegar scored the game winning goal in overtime in front of a sellout crowd of 6,793. While the inaugural season did not result in a playoff berth, average attendance rose from 3,108 in the Falcons' last season to 4,618 and including three sellouts.

On February 17, 2018, it was announced that the Springfield Thunderbirds and the MassMutual Center would host the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic and Skills contest, to take place on January 27–28, 2019. This will mark the first AHL All-Star Game in Springfield since 1959. MGM Springfield will be the corporate sponsor and host of the event.

The market was previously home to:

Season-by-season results

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Games Won Lost OTL SOL Points PCT Goals
for
Goals
against
Standing Year 1st
round
2nd
round
3rd
round
Finals
2016–177632339275.4931972066th, Atlantic2017Did not qualify
2017–187632375271.4672102337th, Atlantic2018Did not qualify
2018–197633299580.5262502417th, Atlantic2019Did not qualify

Players

Current roster

Updated December 13, 2019.[7]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
18 Rodrigo Abols C L 23 2019 Riga, Latvia Panthers
21 Jonathan Ang C R 21 2018 Markham, Ontario Panthers
28 Daniel Audette C L 23 2019 Blainville, Quebec Thunderbirds
5 Henrik Borgstrom C L 22 2018 Helsinki, Finland Panthers
7 Blaine Byron (A) C L 24 2017 Manotick, Ontario Thunderbirds
4 Tommy Cross (A) D L 30 2019 Simsbury, Connecticut Panthers
30 Philippe Desrosiers G L 24 2019 St-Hyacinthe, Quebec Panthers
25 Anthony Greco RW R 26 2016 Brooklyn, New York Panthers
20 Aleksi Heponiemi C L 20 2019 Tampere, Finland Panthers
29 Dryden Hunt LW L 25 2016 Nelson, British Columbia Panthers
24 Brady Keeper D R 23 2019 Cross Lake, Manitoba Panthers
17 Will Lochead D L 21 2019 London, Ontario Thunderbirds
14 Joel Lowry LW L 28 2018 St. Louis, Missouri Panthers
57 Matt Mangene D R 30 2018 Manorville, New York Thunderbirds
34 Jake Massie D L 22 2019 St-Lazare, Quebec Panthers
33 Sam Montembeault G L 23 2017 Bécancour, Quebec Panthers
44 Rob O'Gara D L 26 2019 Nesconset, New York Thunderbirds
6 Ethan Prow D R 27 2019 Sauk Rapids, Minnesota Panthers
92 Sebastian Repo RW R 23 2017 Lahti, Finland Panthers
12 Jack Rodewald RW R 25 2019 Calgary, Alberta Panthers
26 Kevin Roy LW L 26 2019 Greenfield Park, Quebec Panthers
16 Aleksi Saarela LW L 22 2019 Helsinki, Finland Panthers
27 Thomas Schemitsch D R 23 2016 Thornhill, Ontario Panthers
77 Riley Stillman D L 21 2018 Calgary, Alberta Panthers
15 Paul Thompson (C) RW R 31 2018 Derry, New Hampshire Panthers
74 Owen Tippett RW R 20 2019 Peterborough, Ontario Panthers

Retired numbers

Note: Shore's number was retired by the Springfield Indians, and Murray's by the Springfield Falcons; the Thunderbirds continue to honor both numbers. Former AHL President Jack Butterfield and Vice-President Gordie Anziano, longtime Springfield residents, former Indians general manager and Falcons founder Bruce Landon, and Willie O'Ree, the first African American to play in the AHL, have been honored with banners raised with the retired numbers.

List of team captains

Team records

As of 2018–19 season.[8]

Single season

Goals: Anthony Greco, 30 (2018–19)
Goals by a Rookie: Anthony Greco, 16 (2016–17)
Power Play Goals: Paul Thompson, 9 (2018–19)
Short Handed Goals: Anthony Greco, 6 (2017–18)
Assists: Curtis Valk, 42 (2017–18)
Points: Curtis Valk, 62 (2017–18)
Penalty Minutes: Sena Acolatse, 147 (2016–17)
Appearances by a Goalie: Samuel Montembeault, 41 (2017–18)
GAA: Adam Wilcox 2.02 (2016–17)
SV%: Adam Wilcox, .932 (2016–17)
Shutouts: Harri Sateri, 4 (2017–18)

Career

Career Penalty Minutes: 235 Bobby Farnham
Career Goaltending Wins: 26 Samuel Montembeault
Career Shutouts: 4 Harri Sateri
Career Games: 224 Anthony Greco
Career Goals: 75 Anthony Greco
Career Assists: 67 Jayce Hawryluk
Career Power Play Goals: 16 Dryden Hunt
Career Short Handed Goals: 13 Anthony Greco

References

  1. "Portland Pirates to leave Maine and move to Springfield, MA". WCSH. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  2. "American Hockey League Announces Franchise Transaction". OurSports Central. May 23, 2016.
  3. "The investors of Springfield's new hockey team revealed". Western Mass News. June 5, 2016.
  4. "Kinnear named coach of Florida's AHL affiliate". AHL. June 7, 2016.
  5. Pignatello, Jim (June 8, 2016). "Springfield AHL team names city native Nathan Costa as Executive VP; Bruce Landon to serve as consultant". Springfield Republican. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  6. Pignatiello, Jim (June 15, 2016). "Springfield Thunderbirds announced as name, mascot of city's AHL franchise". MassLive.com. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  7. "Springfield Thunderbirds Roster". American Hockey League. 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2017-10-04.
  8. "Springfield Thunderbirds Elite Prospects". Elite Prospects. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
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