Before this week, Chicago and Springfield were largely a mystery to each other.
A few players knew each other from one stop or another. But being based in separate conferences, the relationship was largely limited to video pre-scouting going into the Calder Cup Finals.
Now they know. With four games behind them, the clubs are fully engaged in a heated fight for the Calder Cup.
“It’s good, right?” Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky said of the growing rivalry. “These are two teams that are highly competitive, that want to win. There’s not a lot of ice out there, so you’ve got to fight for every inch and that’s the game of hockey.
“If you’re a fan, you love it. If you’re a player, you love it. This is what you play for.”
Springfield head coach Drew Bannister calls tonight’s Game 5 “a Game 7” for his team.
The Thunderbirds handled their last elimination test, assembling a masterful 4-0 win to eliminate Laval in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Just 10 days later, they are in the same predicament, down 3-1 to Chicago in the Calder Cup Finals.
Stopping the Wolves early will be one key for the Thunderbirds toward their goal of taking the series back to Chicago. The Wolves have struck first in each of the first four games this series, something that troubles Bannister.
“We’ve been chasing a lot of leads here,” Bannister said. “That’s one thing we’re going to have to do. We’ll have to come out and push and try to get the lead.
“I thought we had our legs. I thought our guys were skating, and I thought we did enough to create a little bit more. So really all you can do is build on that and get some momentum in the game.”
― Patrick Williams