Preview: Islanders at Bears

Preview: Islanders at Bears

Feb 3, 2024


The Bridgeport Islanders (13-24-5-0) travel to Chocolatetown USA for their final game before the 2024 AHL All-Star break, facing the Hershey Bears (35-8-0-2) at 7 p.m. inside Giant Center. The Islanders are seeking their season-best third straight win following back-to-back victories against the Springfield Thunderbirds at home. Last night, Cole Bardreau had two goals and one assist, and Henrik Tikkanen (4-3-1) made an AHL career-high 37 saves, in a 5-1 win against the T-Birds. It was Bridgeport’s largest margin of victory this season. Carsen Twarynski, Eetu Liukas, and Matt Maggio (first professional game-winning goal) also lit the lamp for the Islanders.





Tonight’s game is the sixth and final meeting between the Islanders and Bears this season, and the third of three matchups in Pennsylvania. Bridgeport is 1-3-1-0 against Hershey and still looking for its first win on the road (0-2-0-0) following a pair of setbacks in November. However, the Islanders earned a 2-1 shootout win at Total Mortgage Arena in their most recent meeting on Jan. 15th. Ruslan Iskhakov scored his team-leading 13th goal of the year and Matt Maggio ended the contest in the fifth round of Bridgeport’s only shootout decision this season.



The Bears continue to lead all AHL teams in wins (35) and points (72), and currently hold a 13-point advantage over Providence for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. Head coach Todd Nelson’s team is 7-1-0-2 over its last 10 games, but is coming off a 4-1 loss in Lehigh Valley last night. Two-time AHL All-Star Ethen Frank scored his 21st goal of the season at 9:43 of the first period. Hershey has won four straight games at home and 10 of its last 11 inside Giant Center. Leading scorer Mike Sgarbossa is fourth in the AHL in points (42) and leads the league in assists (35). Pierrick Dube is second in the AHL with 23 goals.



Ruslan Iskhakov is headed to San Jose, California after tonight’s game to represent Bridgeport at the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic, presented by Tech CU. It’s his second straight All-Star selection. Iskhakov leads the Islanders in goals (13), assists (21), points (34), shots (102), multi-point games (10), and game-winning goals (4). He recorded one assist last night, skating alongside former Hershey forward Brian Pinho and rookie Matt Maggio.



The Islanders’ fourth line of Cole Bardreau, Jeff Kubiak and Eetu Liukas has been red hot this week. Bardreau and Liukas have each recorded back-to-back multi-point games, while Kubiak had one goal and one assist in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Springfield. Bardreau set a new season high and tied his AHL career high with three points last night (2g, 1a) after recording two points on Wednesday (1g, 1a). Liukas, the New York Islanders’ fifth-round draft choice in 2021, hadn’t had a multi-point game in the AHL until Wednesday. He enters tonight’s game with one goal and three assists in his last two outings.



In addition to Cole Bardreau, Carsen Twarynski has scored in back-to-back games... Bardreau’s empty-net tally in the final two minutes last night was also Bridgeport’s second shorthanded goal of the season... Bridgeport is 13-for-13 on the penalty kill over its last three games... The Islanders are looking to snap a four-game slide on the road.



New York Islanders (20-17-12): Last: 3-2 OTL vs. Florida, Saturday -- Next: Monday at Toronto, 7 p.m. ET

Worcester Railers (19-18-3-2): Last: 6-2 W at Trois Rivières, last night -- Next: Tonight at Trois Rivières, 7 p.m. ET

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