T-Birds, Hofer Can’t Quite Top Primeau & Rocket in Goalie Duel

Press Release from the Springfield Thunderbirds

Photo Courtesy of the Springfield Thunderbirds

LAVAL, Quebec, Canada. – The Springfield Thunderbirds (0-3-0-0) could not solve the exploits of Cayden Primeau and the Laval Rocket, (1-1-1-0) who came away with a 2-0 win at Place Bell on Wednesday night.

The young netminders Joel Hofer and Primeau were both sensational during the June playoff series, so it was only fitting that the two started this contest and combined for 25 saves in the first period – 11 for Primeau and 14 for Hofer.

Laval thought it had the first goal just 53 seconds into the contest when a Danick Martel backhander from the bottom of the right circle went off Hofer’s shoulder and landed on top of the net’s top shelf. Brandon Gignac arrived and knocked the puck back down to his feet and shuffled it across the line, but the goal was waved off after a discussion by the officials, as it was deemed Gignac had played the puck with a high stick.

The goaltending duel showed no signs of a letup in the second, as Primeau was ready for Springfield’s first two power play chances, including a trio of saves off new T-Birds star Martin Frk‘s high-octane shot. Hofer was equal to every challenge at the other end, highlighting his period with an impressive save from close range on Jesse Ylonen.

4:04 into the third, Laval finally solved the offensive struggles as Otto Leskinen led a rush from his defense spot, feeding Gabriel Bourque in the left circle, where the veteran winger beat Hofer to the short-side, top shelf, to make it a 1-0 score.

Springfield’s offense put up double-digit shots for a third-straight period and had a power play with just over four minutes to play, but ultimately could not find an answer against Primeau, who finished with a 34-save shutout, his first such blanking in his career against the Thunderbirds.

The T-Birds’ road trip continues into Belleville for back-to-back games with the Senators on Friday and Saturday at CAA Arena. Springfield won three of the four regular-season meetings a season ago, including a split of back-to-back games in Belleville. The Senators are one of the hottest teams to open the 2022-23 season, posting 12 goals over their first two games heading into Wednesday’s action, a pair of victories over the Rocket. Eight different Belleville skaters have averaged a point-per-game in the early season, including former Thunderbird Jayce Hawryluk, who has two goals and two assists to begin his second tour of duty in the Ottawa organization.

The T-Birds will return to the MassMutual Center on Friday, Oct. 28 as they host the Bridgeport Islanders in a rematch of Opening Night before welcoming back the Bruins for a 7:05 p.m. rematch on Saturday, Oct. 29. Thunderbirds fans can reserve their seats for the 2022-23 season and lock in the best prices and member benefits by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.

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