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Thunderbirds’ Matthew Kessel scores his first goal, makes it a game winner

The 21-year-old defenseman gave the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead in the Calder Cup Finals Sunday afternoon with his first professional goal.

COLLEGE HOCKEY: MAR 19 Hockey East Championship - UMASS v UCONN Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Sunday afternoon, St. Louis Blues prospect Matthew Kessel scored his first goal as a professional in Game One of the Springfield Thunderbirds - Chicago Wolves Calder Cup Finals Series to give the Blues American Hockey League affiliate a 1-0 lead in the series. [The Calder Cup is the AHL’s equivalent of the Stanley Cup.]

The goal came just over five minutes into the first overtime period on a pass from James Neal with Dakota Joshua providing a screen in front of Wolves goalie Alex Lyon to give the Thunderbirds the 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate.

Kessel is a fifth-round (150th overall) pick by the Blues in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and after spending the previous three seasons at the University of Massachusetts, which included winning an NCAA Frozen Four Championship with the Minutemen in 2021, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Blues that will start at the beginning of the 2022-23 season.

Kessel’s goal came in his 29th career game with the Thunderbirds.

The two teams are right back at it Monday night at 8 p.m. ET. with the Thunderbirds looking to take a 2-0 series lead over the Wolves.