SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – We’ve only been a week into the St. Louis Blues offseason, but hockey fans can still watch as some of the team’s top contenders compete for the grand prize in another league.
That Springfield Thunderbirds, the Blues’ American Hockey League affiliate, is set to start the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Thunderbirds begin a best-of-seven series on Saturday, taking on the Laval Rocket in the Calder Cup semifinals.
Springfield has been the Blues’ primary minor league partner for two years and opened the playoffs with six straight wins before the semifinals, defeating the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Charlotte Checkers. The Thunderbirds continued the success of a strong regular season in which the team won the Atlantic Division crown with 43-24-6 and 95 points.
The Calder Cup has been awarded annually to the American Hockey League’s playoff champions since 1938. The St. Louis Blues were the NHL parent of nine AHL teams for 55 years, but only one has ever won a Calder Cup title among the Blues. That happened in 1970 during their lone season associated with the Buffalo Bisons HockeyDB.com.
As the Thunderbirds seek to reach that mark in blues history, they will begin Saturday’s series with many familiar faces. Nine players currently drafted by the Thunderbirds, including two goalies, played once at the NHL level with the St. Louis Blues this season. Many prove why the Blues gave them an in-depth look earlier in the season amid injuries and COVID-19 concerns.
Joel Hofer is up front with the goalie. He has a 4-0 record, 150 saves and a .962 percentage in four playoff games so far. Hofer secured a win with one of the top highlights of the Calder Cup playoffs so far rare goalie goal in one of his recent wins. He now has Charlie Lindgren in the net as a handcuff, who returned to the Thunderbirds after the Blues were eliminated in the playoffs.
Springfield also boasts a nice mix of veteran skaters and young talent who played for the Blues earlier this season. This list includes James Neal, Dakota Joshua, Matthew Peca, Klim Kostin, Mackenzie MacEachern, Steven Santini and Calle Rosen. Peca leads that core with nine points in the Calder Cup playoffs, while Blues prospect Sam Anas leads the team with 13 points in the Thunderbirds’ six playoff games.
The Thunderbirds are one of four remaining teams in the Calder Cup Playoff Race. They will face the Laval Rocket in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Chicago Wolves take on the Sotckton Heat in the Western Conference.
Springfield drops the puck in the semifinals at 18:35 CT Saturday. The Eastern Conference Finals could extend to June 15. For more information on how to follow the Springfield Thunderbirds in their Calder Cup run, click here.
https://fox2now.com/sports/st-louis-blues/blues-prospects-shine-as-springfield-thunderbirds-chase-calder-cup-title/ The Blues prospects are bright as the Springfield Thunderbirds chase the Calder Cup title