Preview: Islanders at Bears

Preview: Islanders at Bears

Nov 17, 2023


The Bridgeport Islanders (4-7-1-0) begin their first “three-in-three” series of the season tonight with a 7 p.m. puck drop against the Hershey Bears (10-4-0-0) at Giant Center. It’s also the first of back-to-back games against the Bears this weekend, with a 7 p.m. rematch scheduled for Saturday night at Total Mortgage Arena. The Islanders will wrap up the weekend against the Providence Bruins at home on Sunday. Bridgeport will play three games in as many days just four times this season, a franchise low.






The Islanders scored three times in the third period to storm back from an early deficit and make things interesting on Tuesday afternoon, but it wasn’t quite enough in a 5-4 loss to the Syracuse Crunch in front of 5,726 fans at Total Mortgage Arena. Cole Bardreau had a team-high two points (one goal, one assist) and one of three goals in the third period, joining Brian Pinho and Sam Asselin. Jeff Kubiak also notched his first goal of the season, while Jakub Skarek (2-5-1) made 21 saves.



Tonight’s game marks the third of six meetings between the Islanders and Bears this season, and the second of three in Chocolatetown. The Islanders won’t return to Hershey until Feb. 3rd. The Bears lead the series 2-0-0-0 following a 3-2 overtime win on Oct. 22nd, and a 3-1 victory in their last tilt on Nov. 4th, in which Bridgeport hung around for most of the night but allowed two goals within 25 seconds in the third period at Giant Center. Sam Asselin scored for the second time in three games, while Jakub Skarek made 20 saves. The Isles went 2-2-2-0 against Hershey last season and had points in all three meetings on the road (1-0-2-0).



Head coach Todd Nelson’s Bears lead the Eastern Conference with 20 points in 14 games. Secondary scoring is a big reason why, as Hershey doesn’t have a single player in the AHL’s top 22 in goals, but four players are tied with five goals this season. Forwards Joe Snively and Mike Sgarbossa co-lead the team in points (13). Last time out, Hershey defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in overtime, 5-4 on Wednesday. Six different players recorded a multi-point performance, including two goals from Jimmy Huntington. Hunter Shepard (5-1-0) made 17 saves in his return from the Washington Capitals, where he backstopped a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena last Saturday (36 saves).



Sam Asselin has recorded points in back-to-back games and enters the weekend with six points in his last seven (four goals, two assists). He has three goals in his last five games dating back to Nov. 4th in Hershey. Asselin is tied with Ruslan Iskhakov for the team lead in goals (4), and paces Bridgeport in power-play goals (2) and shooting percentage (4-for-17, 23.5%). Six of his 17 shots-on-goal have come against the Bears.



Tanner Fritz earned one assist in Tuesday’s loss to the Crunch, his 91st career helper and 138th career point with Bridgeport. The 32-year-old forward moved into a tie for fifth place on the team’s all-time assists list with Josh Ho-Sang (2016-20) and now shares eighth all-time in points with Jeff Tambellini (2005-09). One point tonight would put him into a tie him for seventh place with Chris Terry (2021-23). Fritz has three points (one goal, two assists) in 10 games with Bridgeport this season.



Bridgeport has outshot its opponents in five straight games... Ken Appleby is 15th among AHL goalies with a 2.27 GAA... Bridgeport’s penalty kill is 8-for-9 in its last three games, and tied for third in the AHL overall at 87.0%.



New York Islanders (5-6-5): Last: 4-3 SOL at Seattle, last night -- Next: Tomorrow at Calgary, 7 p.m. ET

Worcester Railers (4-5-1-1): Last: 2-1 OTW at Newfoundland, Sunday -- Next: Tonight vs. Cincinnati, 7:05 p.m. ET

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