Josh and I went to our second Springfield Thunderbirds game of the season last night! We hadn’t been back since Thanksgiving Eve, and we knew we wanted to go to a few more games this season.
The game started at 7:05 p.m., so we got to downtown Springfield for 6:00 p.m. where we hit traffic trying to get into the parking garage at the MGM casino. We normally park there for Thunderbirds games—or any time we’re in downtown—because it’s free to park and street parking is hit or miss, usually a miss. By 6:30 p.m. we were finally parked after waiting to get in the garage and circling to find a spot.
The walk from MGM to the MassMutual Center where the Thunderbirds play is a really short walk, and thankfully there was a cop to direct traffic at the intersection since you basically have to cross diagonally. They ushered us into a different entrance than we’ve gone through in the past, maybe to help with crowd control since the game was sold out. This way was actually a bit easier and less chaotic than the main entrance we’ve gone through before.
Ever since we went to our first game in October 2021, we always buy tickets for the same two seats. It’s a good view from that section, and they’re two end seats, which I always try to buy no matter what game we’re going to.
When we were looking for a game to buy tickets for back in February, we thought it’d be fun to go on Pink in the Rink night. In the picture above, you can see that they actually painted the rink pink, which was pretty cool, and each seat had a pink rally towel on it.
As we all know, I’m terrified of mascots, but over time I’ve warmed up to Boomer, the Thunderbirds’ mascot. Before the start of every game, he drives out onto the ice on an ATV and looks like he’s living his best life. He’ll also skate around during the intermissions when groups come out onto the ice.
He walks around the stands and is a big hit with the kids. I still keep my distance from him, but I’d be open to at least taking a picture with him if I was in a non-stressful situation; I’m not going to go up to him when there’s a gaggle of children. That just seems too overwhelming.
Before the game started, there was a ceremony on the ice for breast cancer survivors, and you can see the players in their pink jerseys standing among the survivors.
The Thunderbirds were playing the Laval Rocket, and the game was tied up 1-1 after the first period, and no one scored in the second. There were a few scuffles and some shoving, but no full out fights.
During the second intermission before the third period, Josh and I hit the bathrooms before he got me a beer. I stood off to the side while he was in line, and I ended up seeing a co-worker from my department across the concourse. I went over to say hi and then introduced Josh.
I couldn’t help but laugh because a running joke Josh and I have is that I always run into someone I know at events or places we go. When Josh got out of the beer line, I was laughing and said, “Sooo I ran into someone I know.”
There was a couple and young son sitting next to us in our row, and the guy noticed my hoodie, which had the name of my university on it. He asked if I went there or go there, and I said I went there and work there now. He was a 2012 grad and I said I graduated in 2016 and work in the marketing department. So between that interaction and seeing a co-worker, I’m like I can’t go anywhere.
And that’s not even including seeing Josh’s family. Some of his family members are season ticket holders, so we usually run into at least an aunt and uncle or cousin at the games, but his grandfather was there, too. We quickly said hi to them during the first intermission.
The game was tied 1-1 going into the third period, before the T-Birds went off. Austin Osmanski got his first AHL goal to give put them up 2-1 before 32 seconds later, another player scored a goal to make it 3-1. Then less than two minutes later, another goal made it 4-1.
The Rocket pulled their goalie off and on during the third period, and there was a close shot made by the T-Birds’ goalie toward the empty net at the other end of the rink. It hit the right post before Martin Frk tapped it in to make it 5-1 and earn himself a hat trick in the game.
Fans started tossing their hats on to the ice, and the guys who do the occasional ice clean up during the game skated out with bins to collect the hats. Josh was confused, and I had to explain to him what a hat trick was and why fans were throwing their hats.
The Rocket scored their second goal of the game during the third but didn’t have a chance to come back. The final score was 5-2 Thunderbirds—their sixth straight home win.
We walked back to MGM to the parking garage, where we spent almost 50 minutes waiting to get out. We were parked on the sixth floor, and it took us most of that time to just get out into the main line out of the garage. There was lots of honking and a few cars not understanding the alternating merging. It’s like, have none of you been to The Big E? (If you know, you know.)
Thankfully, once we were out of the garage it was smooth sailing home, and since it was around 11:00 p.m., we both just went to bed. There’s a month left of the regular season, so I’m not sure if we’ll be able to make another game, maybe if they make the playoffs again. But I’m glad we were able to go this weekend!