Jonathan Ang scored twice for the first time in his brief AHL career and Ryan Bednard stopped 34 of 36 shots faced as the Springfield Thunderbirds opened a three-game homestand with an impressive 5-2 win over the Hershey Bears.
Ang opened the scoring 3:24 into the first period, with the lone assist going to Jack Rodewald, and then lit the lamp again late in the second to put the Thunderbirds up 4-0.
In between Ang’s brace, Spingfield got a first period power-play goal from Aleksi Saarela and an even-strength marker in the second from Daniel Audette.
The Bears halved the deficit with third period goals from Alex Alexeyev and Philippe Maillet before Owen Tippett put a bow on the win with his 18th goal into an empty net with 35 ticks left on the clock.
In addition to upping his team-lead in goals, Tippett drew an assist on Saarela’s tally.
Joel Lowry set up two goals and Paul Thompson, Tommy Cross, Brady Keeper and Rodrigo Abols also picked up assists.
Ang’s two-goal outburst gave him six in 37 games this season, which is one more than he scored in 75 games played during the 2018-19 campaign.
Bednard, up from the ECHL to fill in for Sam Montembeault, won his second AHL start and first on home ice. He now has a 2-0 record, 1.50 goals against average and .959 save percentage, so it doesn’t look like the step up in level has been much of an issue for him.
The two teams will meet again of Friday at MassMutual Center.
Springfield will have the services of goaltender Montembeault and defenseman Riley Stillman, who were loaned to the club with the Florida Panthers off on a ten-day break.
The Thunderbirds are now one point behind the Charlotte Checkers, who sit in four place in Atlantic Division, but the Checkers have three games in hand. Springfield is just two points back of the third place Providence Bruins with each team having played 44 games.
In ECHL action from Monday, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits pulled out a 7-6 overtime on the road over the Atlanta Gladiators. Patrick Bajkov and Adam Rockwood picked up an assist each in regulation and Dylan MacPherson set up the winning goal by Kamerin Nault.