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AHL Recap: Thunderbirds can’t build on strong start, fall 5-2 to Bears

Aleski Heponiemi finally gets first American League goal

2017 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

After pinning a 5-2 loss on the Hershey Bears on Wednesday, the Springfield Thunderbirds fell to the Bears by the same score Friday night at MassMutual Center.

Aleksi Heponiemi opened the scoring 2:03 into the first from Ryan Haggerty and Cliff Pu. The goal was Heponiemi’s first in the AHL and came in his 34th game of the season.

A prolific scorer in the WHL and Finland, Florida’s diminutive second-rounder in 2017 is now up to 9 points in what has been a tough rookie season in the “A”. Hopefully, now that he’s gotten the monkey off his back, we’ll see more offensive production from him in the second half of the campaign.

After Shane Gersich tied the game at 11:22, defenseman Ethan Prow notched his fifth 5:16 later, with the assists going to Joel Lowry and Jonathan Ang, to give Springfield the lead back.

That would be it for the T-Birds offense and the Bears would forge ahead on second period goals from Garrett Pilon, Brian Pinho and former NHLer Matt Moulson.

Moulson would add one more in the third with an empty-netter to complete the scoring.

Sam Montembeault got the start for the Thunderbirds, who were out-shot 39-27, and finished the game with 35 saves.

Springfield closes its three-game homestand tonight against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

ECHL

The Greenville Swamp Rabbits were blanked 4-0 last night by the Florida Everblades in Estero. Matt Marcinew led the team with five shots on goal and Jake Horton had four. Adam Rockwood and Patrick Bajkov had no shots and each finished with a -1 rating. Dylan MacPherson finished the game with a -2 rating while Will Lochead was even. The Swamp Rabbits will take on the Orlando Solar Bears at noon today at Amway Center.