Recap: Thunderbirds 4, Islanders 2Nov 23, 2023
The Bridgeport Islanders (5-10-1-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, suffered a 4-2 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds (9-7-1-0) at MassMutual Center on Wednesday.
Otto Koivula scored for the second time this season, while Jeff Kubiak recorded his third goal in the last five games. Jakub Skarek (3-7-1) made 29 saves. The Islanders are 2-1-0-0 against the Thunderbirds this season, with the home team winning all three meetings so far.
Springfield struck first just 11:47 into the contest on a terrific passing play by the T-Birds top line of Nathan Walker, Matthew Peca, and Adam Gaudette. The trio set up defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk for a shot on net, which was later credited to Peca for a redirection past Skarek.
The T-Birds got the scoring started again in the second period when Calle Rosen’s point shot bounced its way on target, and Gaudette gloved the puck with his hand. Despite being swarmed by two Bridgeport defenders, the winger snapped a pass to a wide-open Peca in front of Skarek. Peca made a crafty left-to-right move before roofing a backhander home at the 13:46 mark.
With 4:29 to go in the second, Koivula got the Islanders back to within one, stealing a loose puck in the slot area and snapping one past Vadim Zherenko to cut the T-Birds lead in half, 2-1.
However, as the game see-sawed back and forth, it only took 37 seconds for Springfield to respond. While the T-Birds circled in the offensive zone, Rosen corralled the puck and fired another shot from the point. This time Hugh McGing deflected a shot past Skarek for a 3-1 T-Birds advantage.
The Islanders once again made it a one-goal game shortly after McGing’s third tally of the season. A shot from Dennis Cholowski knifed through traffic and was tipped in by Kubiak, making it 3-2 Thunderbirds at 17:12. The two teams combined for four goals in just 3:26 of game action.
For the third time in the game, it was the home team that opened the scoring in the final period to notch the put-away tally. Kalynuk was rewarded for his strong play on the blue line. The defenseman took a pass from teammate Zachary Bolduc in the high slot, stepped in and around a defender, and roofed it over Skarek’s blocker.
Bridgeport went 0-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. The Islanders also led in shots 34-33.