Islanders Host T-Birds in Post-Holiday TiltDec 28, 2021
The Bridgeport Islanders (10-14-1-3), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, return from their 2021 holiday break with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Springfield Thunderbirds (15-7-2-1) tonight at Webster Bank Arena. It continues a stretch of 21 straight games within the Atlantic Division and begins a two-game, post-Christmas homestand. The Islanders defeated Hartford in their most recent game, 6-5 in a shootout, at the XL Center last Wednesday. Grant Hutton scored twice and 13 different players had at least one point, while Jakub Skarek (7-7-2) made 35 saves on a career-high 40 shots against. He stopped three of four shootout attempts.
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SERIES AT A GLANCE
Tonight’s game is the eighth of 12 meetings between the Islanders and Thunderbirds this season, and the fourth of six in Connecticut. Bridgeport is 1-5-0-1 in the series and 1-2-0-0 in those games at home. Last time out, Springfield scored four second-period goals in a span of 3:53 en route to a 4-1 victory at the MassMutual Center on Nov. 24th. The T-Birds have earned at least one point in all seven meetings this year, with Bridgeport’s only victory coming in overtime in its home opener on Oct. 23rd.
VIEW FROM SPRINGFIELD
After starting the season 13-2-2-0 through the first 17 games, the Thunderbirds are just 2-5-0-1 since Nov. 26th but remain first in the Atlantic Division with 33 points in 25 games. Their last game was nine days ago when Springfield suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to Hartford on Dec. 19th. Sam Anas, Keean Washkurak and Nolan Stevens each scored in regulation, while Colton Ellis made 33 saves. Three of Springfield’s top four scorers are currently on call-up with the St. Louis Blues, including defenseman Scott Perunovich and forwards Logan Brown and Nathan Walker. Forward Dakota Joshua and goalie Charlie Lindgren are also with St. Louis.
TO THE TAXI SQUAD
The New York Islanders announced Sunday that forwards Simon Holmstrom and Cole Bardreau, along with defenseman Grant Hutton, have been assigned to their temporary taxi squad. Subsequently, each player will not be available for Bridgeport tonight. Holmstrom had 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 28 AHL games this season and is one of just two players who have appeared in every game for Bridgeport (with Kyle MacLean). Bardreau had three goals and five points in his last four AHL games, while Hutton had seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last six AHL games, including his first career two-goal performance last Wednesday in Hartford.
Bridgeport recalled rookie defenseman Will Cullen from the Worcester Railers (ECHL) on Sunday and the 25-year-old could make his AHL debut tonight. Cullen had two points (one goal, one assist) in five ECHL games this season after signing an AHL deal with Bridgeport on Nov. 26th. The Pelham Manor, N.Y. native recorded three assists in seven games with Miami University (Ohio) earlier this season and had 17 goals, 38 assists and 55 points in 96 games at Bowling Green State University from 2018-20. He will wear #20 with Bridgeport.
REINFORCING THE O-ZONE
Bridgeport signed a pair of forwards to professional tryouts this morning, adding Liam Coughlin and Ross Olsson from the Worcester Railers. Coughlin, who will wear #42, was tied for third on the Railers in scoring (11 points) in 14 games this season. He played two games with the Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL) and 39 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL) in 2019-20 following four seasons at the University of Vermont. Olsson, who will wear #32, was second on the Railers in goals (six) and had four assists for 10 points in 14 games. The Endicott College product has played 85 career ECHL games with Worcester, Indy and Kansas City and is expected to make his AHL debut tonight.
Bridgeport has played more games than any other AHL team (28)… Erik Brown is on a three-game point/assist streak, the longest of his pro career... Chris Terry has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his last 11 games and currently leads Bridgeport in goals (nine), points (23) and co-leads the club in assists (14) in 25 outings.
New York Islanders (8-12-6); Last: 4-3 SOL vs. VGK, Dec. 19 -- Next: Tomorrow vs. DET, 7:30 p.m.
Worcester Railers (8-11-0-1); Last: 5-0 L vs. ADK, Sunday -- Next: Tomorrow at ME, 3 p.m.