Recap: Islanders 5, Thunderbirds 4 (OT)Feb 18, 2023
Dennis Cholowski tied it in the final minute of regulation and Otto Koivula scored the winning goal in overtime as the Bridgeport Islanders (21-19-7-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, stunned the Springfield Thunderbirds (24-18-2-4) with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory at Total Mortgage Arena on Saturday.
Bridgeport clawed back from a 4-1 deficit in the second period to win its second straight game, scoring four unanswered goals on Vadim Zherenko (7-7-2) in front of 4,584 screaming fans. Arnaud Durandeau, Samuel Bolduc, and Ruslan Iskhakov also found the back of the net, while Cory Schneider (14-5-3) made 22 saves.
Bolduc had three points (one goal, two assists), Iskhakov scored once and added a helper, and William Dufour chipped in a career-high three assists.
With the victory, the Islanders moved into sole possession of sixth place in the Atlantic Division standings, eclipsing the 50-point mark – one point ahead of the Hartford Wolf Pack and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Springfield jumped out to a 3-1 lead at the first intermission, led by an early Martin Frk hat trick. Frk started the scoring at the 5:29 mark with a long shot over the blue line that clipped the crossbar and beat Schneider on the power-play, giving the St. Louis Blues’ affiliate an early advantage.
Durandeau responded about 30 seconds later with a slick wrist shot from the left circle while cruising in with speed. He placed a flawless shot inside the far post, giving him six goals in his last six games and 13 total on the season. Robin Salo and Dufour assisted on the equalizer.
Frk completed his first-period hat trick with his 18th goal of the season at 14:13 and his 19th of the year less than two minutes later, capitalizing on another power play at 15:27. The T-Birds went 2-for-3 on the man advantage Saturday, while the Islanders finished 1-for-5.
Springfield extended its lead to 4-1 at 2:59 of the second period on Greg Printz’s fifth goal of the season, and his third against Bridgeport. But instead of hanging their heads, the Islanders rallied back with a pair of even-strength goals in the second period from New York draft picks to pull within one after 40 minutes.
Bolduc made it 4-2 with a hopeful wrist shot up against the left-wing boards that filtered through traffic and beat Zherenko for his ninth goal of the season. Iskhakov then continued his climb up the AHL’s rookie scoring leaderboard with his 10th goal of the season, corralling Bolduc’s rebound in front and finishing less than two seconds after a power-play ended. Iskhakov is tied for fifth among all League rookies in points (36).
The Islanders were relentless in a high-octane third period, outshooting Springfield 16-10 but coming up empty until the final 56 seconds. Printz was assessed a minor penalty for closing his hand on the puck at 18:23, and Schneider was pulled shortly after, for a 6-on-4 power play. Bridgeport set up shop and Dufour found Cholowski in the deep slot, where the Islanders defenseman cranked a one-time bullet past Zherenko for his first goal with the team.
Early in overtime, Bolduc advanced the puck to Koivula over the Thunderbirds’ line and Koivula did the rest, driving the net, dragging the puck around Zherenko, and scoring on the backhand at 1:15.
The Islanders improved to 4-2-4-0 against the Thunderbirds through 10 meetings.
Next Time Out: The Islanders travel to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for a 3:05 p.m. matchup against the Penguins tomorrow afternoon. The game can be seen via AHLTV.com or heard on the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network starting with the pre-game show at 2:45 p.m.