Preview: Islanders Host Bears for 'Hockey Fights Cancer'Nov 18, 2023
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Islanders (4-8-1-0) host ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ tonight in a 7 p.m. rematch against the Hershey Bears (11-4-0-0) at Total Mortgage Arena. The Islanders will wear specialty white and lavender warmup jerseys that are available to take home through a silent auction, with all proceeds benefiting the Connecticut Cancer Foundation. Last night, the Islanders scored three goals in the third period to close within one for a second time this week, but suffered a 5-4 loss, this time to the Bears at Giant Center. Otto Koivula (one goal, one assist) and Sam Asselin (two assists) each had multiple points, while Karson Kuhlman, Jeff Kubiak and Dennis Cholowski also lit the lamp. Mike Sgarbossa had a game-high three points (all assists) for the Bears.
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GAME AT A GLANCE
Tonight’s game marks the fourth of six meetings between the Islanders and Bears this season, and the second of three in Connecticut. The Islanders will host Hershey again on Monday, Jan. 15th - an MLK Day matinee at 3 p.m. The Bears lead the series 3-0-0-0 following a 3-2 overtime win at Total Mortgage Arena on Oct. 22nd, a 3-1 victory in Hershey on Nov. 4th, and last night’s 5-4 win. Hershey’s Mike Sgarbossa paces all players in the season series with five points in three games (one goal, four assists), while Sam Asselin leads Bridgeport with three points (one goal, two assists).
VIEW FROM HERSHEY
Head coach Todd Nelson’s Bears lead the Eastern Conference with 22 points in 15 games, trailing the Calgary Wranglers by one point for the top spot in the AHL. Tonight, the Bears go for their third straight win and their third in a row on the road. Veteran center Mike Sgarbossa leads Hershey with 16 points and 13 assists, while Mike Vecchione and Ethen Frank, who both scored last night, pace the Bears with six goals. Sgarbossa is tied for sixth in the AHL’s scoring race. Clay Stevenson, who could get the start in net tonight, is fifth among all AHL goaltenders with a 2.00 GAA through seven appearances. The Bears are the defending Calder Cup champions.
SAMMY’S SCORING RUN
Sam Asselin has recorded points in three straight games, becoming the first Islander to string together at least a three-game scoring streak this season. He enters tonight’s tilt with eight points in his last eight games (four goals, four assists). He has three goals in his last six 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.
Otto Koivula scored his first goal of the season and added an assist in Hershey last night. In doing so, he moved into sole possession of fourth place in both points (152) and assists (95) on Bridgeport’s all-time lists. Koivula is just four points from tying Jeff Hamilton (2002-06) for third place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list. He is five assists from tying current Bears defender and former Bridgeport captain Aaron Ness (2010-15) for third in helpers.
Jeff Kubiak has scored in back-to-back games for the first time this season and the fourth time in his AHL career... He has never scored in three straight games... In addition to Kubiak, Dennis Cholowski, Cole Bardreau, Grant Hutton and Tanner Fritz have registered points in each of the last two games... Bridgeport has outshot its opponents in six straight games... Bridgeport’s penalty kill is 10-for-11 in its last four games, and ranks third in the AHL overall at 87.5%.
New York Islanders (5-6-5): Last: 4-3 SOL at Seattle, Thursday -- Next: Tonight at Calgary, 7 p.m. ET
Worcester Railers (4-5-2-1): Last: 5-4 OTL vs. Cincinnati, last night -- Next: Tonight vs. Cincinnati, 7:05 p.m. ET