Recap: Islanders 5, Thunderbirds 3

Recap: Islanders 5, Thunderbirds 3

Feb 25, 2024

Ruslan Iskhakov scored two goals and Samuel Bolduc recorded a late game winner on Sunday afternoon, as the Bridgeport Islanders (16-28-6-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds (24-22-3-2) in a come-from-behind 5-3 victory at Total Mortgage Arena.


The Islanders scored five goals for the first time since a 5-1 win against Springfield on Feb. 2nd, but Sunday’s outburst came on a franchise record 54 shots, most in team history for a game that ended in regulation.


Matt Maggio and Grant Hutton each had two assists to join Iskhakov with multi-point performances, while Tyce Thompson and Hudson Fasching also found the back of the net. Henrik Tikkanen (6-3-2) made 26 saves, as the Islanders heavily outshot the Thunderbirds 54-29. Maggio has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last six games. Tikkanen is 3-0-1-0 in his last four starts.


Bridgeport extended its point streak at home to six games (4-0-1-1) and its winning streak against the Thunderbirds to three. The Islanders are 6-2-2-0 against Springfield this season. Bridgeport also improved to 6-1-2-0 when playing on a Sunday afternoon.


After eight minutes of scoreless play right off the bat, the offense picked up with three total goals in the next five and a half minutes. The Thunderbirds struck first 8:19 into the contest when Sam Bitten scored his first AHL goal. Drew Callin centered a nice pass from the bottom of the right circle that Bitten hammered home at the doorstep for a slam-dunk goal. 

Springfield extended its lead at the 12:54 mark when Jakub Vrana turned on the jets and blew past the Islanders’ defense, slipping a backhand shot under Tikkanen. Ryan Suzuki lofted the head-man pass that sent Vrana in alone, recording an assist.

The Islanders got on the board just 55 seconds later with Thompson’s first goal of the season and first as an Islander. Carsen Twarynski sprung Thompson in on a breakaway over the T-Birds’ blue line and Thompson sniped a backhand shot up and over Colten Ellis’ shoulder to make it 2-1. It was his first goal overall since Jan. 13, 2023. Brian Pinho received the secondary assist.

The Thunderbirds added to their lead 6:34 into the second period when Suzuki sped past the Islanders’ defense on his backhand before quickly switching to his forehand and chipping a shot over Tikkanen’s glove. Vrana stretched the pass ahead that sent Suzuki in on a partial breakaway, a very similar goal as Springfield’s second of the day.

It was all Islanders the rest of the afternoon. Iskhakov cut their deficit to one 17:08 into the second period with his first goal since Jan. 15th. Bridgeport’s All-Star received Maggio’s pass near the right post, slammed on the breaks, and put a shot on net before corralling his own rebound. He fired another shot that narrowly snuck past Ellis.

Just 1:56 later, Iskhakov skated near the slot and wired home his second goal of the period to tie the contest at 3-3. The 23-year-old drilled a one timer past Ellis on Maggio’s cross-ice feed for his team-leading 15th goal of the season. Both Maggio and Hutton again set up the tally, receiving their second assists of the period.


The Islanders continued to pile on the pressure in the third period, outshooting the Thunderbirds 22-12 in the frame. Bridgeport completed the comeback 11:34 into the period with Bolduc’s game-winning goal in his second contest on conditioning. The Islanders defenseman traded passes with Karson Kuhlman and fired a shot from the blue line that found its way through traffic, going five-hole past Ellis. Otto Koivula notched the secondary helper.


Fasching, who played his 300th AHL game while also with Bridgeport on conditioning, ended the scoring with an empty-net, power-play goal in the final four seconds. It was Bridgeport’s first power-play goal since Jan. 31st against Springfield.


Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-3 on the man advantage and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.


Next Time Out: The Islanders finish February with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Laval Rocket at Total Mortgage Arena on Wednesday. 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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