Recap: Islanders 4, Thunderbirds 2

Recap: Islanders 4, Thunderbirds 2

Mar 8, 2024

The Bridgeport Islanders (19-29-6-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, won their third straight game with a 4-2 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds (25-25-3-2) at MassMutual Center on Friday.


Rick Kowalsky became the 26th AHL head coach to win 300 career games, leading the Islanders to their fifth straight victory against Springfield and their season-best third consecutive win on the road.


William Dufour, Tyce Thompson, Grant Hutton and Matt Maggio all scored, while Ken Appleby (7-8-0) made 18 saves. Hutton’s shorthanded goal at 3:16 of the third period proved to be the difference and Maggio’s empty-net tally pushed his goal streak to three consecutive games.


With the win, the Islanders moved to within 10 points of the Thunderbirds for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with 17 games remaining. Bridgeport closed to within eight points of the seventh-place Lehigh Valley Phantoms.




Dufour opened the scoring just 3:42 into the first period when he slammed home Karson Kuhlman’s cross-crease pass for his 12th goal of the season. On the backhand, Kuhlman curled behind the Thunderbirds’ net and directed a pass through the blue paint that Dufour drilled home past the stick of goaltender Vadim Zherenko (11-8-1). Dufour is now on a three-game point streak (two goals, one assist).


Thompson made it 2-0 at the 11:15 mark with his second goal in the last five games. Thompson powered his way through the left circle and forced a path to the crease before he muscled a forehand shot past Zherenko’s blocker at even strength. Both of Thompson’s goals this season have come against Springfield.


The Islanders outshot Springfield 12-3 in the first period and 18-9 in the second, but allowed a goal early in the middle frame and found themselves narrowly ahead, 2-1, after 40 minutes. Joseph Duszak polished off a 2-on-1 rush alongside Mitchell Hoelscher at the 2:24 mark for his sixth goal of the season.


Bridgeport scored twice on nine shots in the third period to solidify the victory, both via special teams. Hutton recorded a terrific shorthanded goal just 3:16 in following Daylan Kuefler’s instigating minor that occurred in conjunction with a fight between Kuefler and Hunter Skinner. Hutton skated to the slot, reached back to side-step an oncoming Thunderbird, and sniped a wrist shot into the top right corner. It was his second goal of the season and first shorthanded, assisted by Kuhlman.


Zach Dean deflected Ryan Suzuki’s tough-angle, left-corner shot past Appleby 49 seconds later to keep Springfield within striking distance, but the Islanders were rock-solid from there on out. Maggio collected his 13th goal of the season and third in the last three games with less than 55 seconds remaining, an empty-net, power-play tally assisted by Brian Pinho and Ruslan Iskhakov.


The Islanders went 1-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill. They finished their 12-game series against the Thunderbirds with a record of 8-2-2-0.


Next Time Out: The Islanders host the Hartford Wolf Pack for the final time this season, squaring off inside Total Mortgage Arena tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The first 2,500 fans will receive a collectors-edition Storm bobblehead when doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets to the pre-game “Hockey & Hops” event are officially sold out! Great seats for the game remain available by clicking here or by visiting the Yale New Haven Health Box Office (600 Main Street in Bridgeport).


All of the action can be seen live on or heard for free via the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network, beginning with the Connecticut Lottery Pregame Countdown at 6:45 p.m.

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