Calder Cup Finals Preview: T-Birds vs. wolves

Jun 18, 2022

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Springfield Thunderbirds and Chicago Wolves square off in the 2022 Calder Cup Finals, beginning on Sunday, June 19 at 4:00 pm ET at Allstate Arena in Illinois.

The Thunderbirds captured their first Eastern Conference championship in their first Calder Cup Playoffs after dispatching the Laval Rocket, four games to three, in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Wolves, who won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as regular-season AHL champions with 50 wins and 110 points, captured their second consecutive Western Conference championship* as they defeated the Stockton Heat, four games to two, in the Western Conference Finals.

Springfield has been paced offensively by Will Bitten in the postseason. The winger has tallied 17 points over Springfield’s 13 playoff games, good for second in the Calder Cup Playoffs behind Chicago’s Josh Leivo (20 points). Bitten’s line, consisting of him, Dakota Joshuaand mackenzie MacEachern, was a thorn in the sides of the Laval Rocket in the conference finals. The trio has combined for 41 points collectively in the postseason.

Leivo is one of four Wolves skaters in the top-six among AHL playoff point producers. Veterans Stefen Noesen (16 points) and Andrew Poturalski (14 points), as well as rookie Jack Drury (16 points), have all posted point-per-game averages for Chicago’s top-ranked postseason offense (4.15 goals per game). Chicago and Springfield are the only two teams in the Calder Cup Playoffs to have averaged four goals per game.

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup in the series will be the battle between the pipes. Both teams feature a veteran standout and an upstart prospect in their goaltending tandems.

On the Springfield side, 21-year-old Joel hofer has been superb in his first professional postseason, going 6-2 with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in the Calder Cup Playoffs, good for second in the AHL.

First-year Blue and Thunderbird charlie Lindgren proved pivotal in Springfield’s final two victories of the Eastern Conference Finals, stopping 25 of 27 shots in a 3-2 overtime win in Game 5 at Laval, including a game-saving breakaway denial on JS Dea in the extra period. Lindgren followed that up with a 34-save shutout in Game 7 to propel Springfield to the Calder Cup Finals. Lindgren is now 4-1 in the postseason with a 2.47 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

Chicago’s netminding tandem has been equally terrific in the playoffs. Veteran Alex Lyon has won eight of his 10 appearances in the postseason with a 1.96 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. Upstart Hurricanes prospect Pyotr Kochetkov has gone 2-1 since his return from Carolina, stopping 95 of 101 shots and posting a 1.94 goals-against average.

This series marks the first time the Thunderbirds have ever faced a Western Conference opponent in their time in the American Hockey League. A series victory would give Springfield its 8th Calder Cup championship in the city’s AHL history, which dates back to 1936. the Wolves won two Turner Cup championships in the IHL in 1998 and 2000 before capturing Calder Cup titles in 2002 and 2008.

The full series schedule can be seen below.

Thunderbirds Calder Cup Finals tickets are on sale now! To purchase your seats, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.

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