Recap: Crunch 5, Islanders 4Nov 14, 2023
The Bridgeport Islanders (4-7-1-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York 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 (7-3-0-2) in front of 5,726 energetic 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 near the end of the second, while Jakub Skarek (2-5-1) made 21 saves.
Maxim Groshev solidified his first AHL hat trick with an empty-net goal in the third period, leading the way offensively for Tampa Bay’s affiliate. Brandon Halverson (2-0-0) turned aside 29 of 33 shots.
Syracuse rocketed out of the gates and built a 4-0 lead midway through the second period. Three of those goals came in the first, including two from Groshev. The Crunch initially took the lead at 11:20 of the first when Groshev capitalized on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush following Gabriel Dumont’s tripping penalty. Gabriel Fortier set up the play with a back-door feed from the right circle that Groshev tapped home on the left side.
The 21-year-old Groshev doubled Syracuse’s lead about five minutes later when he converted a similar play, directing home another goal from the left side just as an Islanders’ power play was ending. Mitchell Chaffee set up another odd-man rush, this time a 3-on-2 opportunity to set up the score.
Dumont further extended Syracuse’s first-period lead, pushing in a power-play goal off a fortunate bounce with less than five seconds remaining in the period. Chaffee recorded his second assist on the goal, as the Crunch took a 3-0 advantage into the first intermission.
Joe Carroll capitalized on rebound from the slot and whistled a quick release over Skarek’s glove at 10:41 of the second period to make it 4-0 Syracuse. Kubiak finally stopped the bleeding and put the Islanders in business at the 15:19 mark, collecting his first goal of the season to start a run of three straight Bridgeport tallies. Seth Helgeson launched a home-run pass ahead from his own zone that Bardreau took off the end wall, bumped to the doorstep, and set up Kubiak.
The Islanders cut their deficit to a pair just 2:23 into the third period, as Asselin capitalized on the power play following Matt Maggio’s rebound from the right circle. Tanner Fritz also recorded an assist. It was Bridgeport’s first power-play goal since Oct. 27th at Charlotte.
They kept the peddle down and Pinho pulled the Islanders within one with 4:33 left in regulation. Grant Hutton grabbed Maggio’s drop-pass over the blue line and rifled a diagonal feed to the far post, where Kyle MacLean was denied by Halverson but Pinho cleaned up the rebound. Both of Pinho’s two goals this season have come against the Crunch.
With the Islanders still down one in the final two minutes, head coach Rick Kowalsky pulled Skarek for the extra attacker and Groshev converted into the empty net to complete his hat trick at 18:14. However, the resilient Islanders responded right back and made it 5-4 just 46 seconds later, as Bardreau redirected Dennis Cholowski’s shot from the point.
It was too little too late for the Islanders, who could not strike again despite outshooting Syracuse 33-25. It was the fifth straight game that Bridgeport has outshot its opponent.
Bridgeport finished the afternoon 1-for-6 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. The Crunch improved to 2-0-0-0 against the Islanders in two meetings this season.
Next Time Out: The Islanders return to the road this Friday night, facing the Hershey Bears at Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and the game can be seen live on AHLTV.com or heard via the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network, beginning with the Connecticut Lottery Pre-Game Countdown at 6:45 p.m.