Sound Tigers Drop Season Opener in SpringfieldOct 5, 2019
Matt Lorito scored an early power-play goal in the season opener on Saturday, but the Bridgeport Islanders (0-1-0-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, suffered a 5-1 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds (1-0-0-0) at MassMutual Center.
The Thunderbirds ended the game with five unanswered goals including three at even strength, one shorthanded and one on the power play. Springfield outshot Bridgeport 22-14 in the final two frames and scored four of their five tallies in that span.
Despite the frustrating setback, the Sound Tigers jumped out to an early lead when Lorito tucked in a rebound during Bridgeport’s first power play. With Matt Marcinew in the box for interference, Oliver Wahlstrom directed a long shot on target that bounced through Kieffer Bellows’ screen and to goaltender Chris Driedger. The initial shot was turned back, but Lorito buried the loose change to make it 1-0 at 9:11 of the opening period. Aho also collected an assist and finished the game with a team-high five shots.
Just 84 seconds later, the T-Birds tied the contest courtesy of Blaine Byron’s even-strength, highlight-reel goal. The third-year forward completed a spin-o-rama down the right wing and cut through the crease. He finished a forehand shot past Jared Coreau’s blocker to make it 1-1 at the 10:35 mark.
Springfield tacked on two more goals in the second period to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes. Dominic Toninato netted the eventual game-winner at the 5:52 mark when he deflected a long floater from Tommy Cross. Seventeen seconds later, Joel Lowry deposited his first goal of the season after Owen Tippett hit the crossbar with a blast. Tippett’s shot rang off the iron and drew Coreau out of position, where Lowry cleaned it up into a wide-open net.
Tippett extended Springfield’s lead at 10:50 of the third period when he capitalized on the power play, taking advantage of Parker Wotherspoon’s interference penalty. Less than two minutes later, Jonathan Ang added a shorthanded tally that was created by hard work in the neutral zone. Ang stole the puck away as Bridgeport attempted to begin a rush and darted straight down the ice at Coreau, where he finished a forehand shot at 12:16.
Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. Coreau (0-1-0) made 30 saves in his Sound Tigers debut, while Driedger (1-0-0) stopped 24 shots to earn the win for Springfield.
The feisty contest included two fights: captain Kyle Burroughs vs. Lowry in the first period and Nick Schilkey vs. Paul Thompson in the third. The latter came immediately after Thompson connected an open-ice, high hit on Thomas Hickey that took him out for the remainder of the evening. Thompson was handed a five-minute major for interference.
Saturday’s game marked the North American debut for Islanders’ 23rd-overall pick in 2019, Simon Holmstrom. He ended the night with three shots-on-goal. It was also the professional debut for forward Mason Jobst.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers continue their opening weekend on Sunday with a 3 p.m. puck drop against the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center. Fans can follow all of the live action via the and , beginning with the pre-game show at 2:45 p.m. Bridgeport's home opener is set for Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.