Recap: Bears 5, Islanders 4Nov 17, 2023
For the second time this week, the Bridgeport Islanders (4-8-1-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, scored three goals in the third period to close within one, but suffered a 5-4 loss in regulation – this time to the Hershey Bears (11-4-0-0) at Giant Center on Friday.
Otto Koivula (one goal, one assist) and Sam Asselin (two assists) each had multiple points, while Jakub Skarek (2-6-1) made 23 saves. Karson Kuhlman, Jeff Kubiak and Dennis Cholowski also lit the lamp. Asselin extended his scoring streak to a team-best three games.
Mike Sgarbossa had a game-high three points (three assists) for the Bears.
Hershey was responsible for five of the first six goals to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Mike Vecchione opened the scoring at 17:32 of the first period when he collected Ethen Frank’s drop pass in transition and sent a shot from the right side through a screen past Skarek’s glove. Ryan Hofer followed that up with his first professional goal off an Islanders’ turnover deep in their own zone with less than eight seconds left in the period.
Kuhlman cut the deficit in half with his first goal as an Islander, rolling a shot down goalie Hunter Shepard’s (6-1-0) back at 2:55 of the second. Tanner Fritz forced the puck to the doorstep where Kuhlman was denied on a forehand shot, but his backhand chance on the rebound fluttered into the air, landed on Shepard’s back, and dropped into the net. Grant Hutton also assisted on Bridgeport’s opening tally.
The Bears responded with the next three goals beginning at the 7:10 mark when Nicky Leivermann lobbed a long stretch pass ahead to Ivan Miroshnichenko, who raced behind Bridgeport’s defense and had a clear path to the net. Bogdan Trineyev then slammed home Sgarbossa’s pass through the slot at 11:46 of the second.
Frank extended Hershey’s lead to 5-1 with the eventual game-winner early in the third period, a goal that was reviewed for several minutes. Frank finished off another Sgarbossa pass near the crease just as Bridgeport’s net was dislodged, but the referees overruled their initial call on the ice and awarded a goal upon review.
From there, it was all Islanders. Bridgeport outshot Hershey by a whopping 18-3 margin in the third period and scored three goals in a span of 4:57 to close within one. Kubiak recorded a goal for the second straight game at 7:37 before Cholowski snuck a lengthy wrist shot through traffic and past Shepard at 9:09. Koivula (pictured) and Ruslan Iskhakov capitalized on a brilliant 2-on-1 rush for Koivula’s first goal of the season at the 12:34 mark, establishing a 5-4 game.
Arnaud Durandeau hit the post with a sweeping backhand shot while Skarek was on the bench for an extra attacker in the final minute, but that’s as close as the Islanders could get.
Bridgeport finished the game 0-for-1 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the kill. The Islanders led in shots-on-goal, 35-28, outshooting their opponent for a sixth straight game.
Hockey Fights Cancer: The Islanders return to Total Mortgage Arena tomorrow night for a 7 p.m. rematch against the Bears for ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’. The Islanders will wear specialty warmup jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit the Connecticut Cancer Foundation. Bid online now! Tickets are on sale now by clicking here or visiting the Yale New Haven Health Box Office. Doors open at 6 p.m.