The Bridgeport Report: Week 17Feb 6, 2024
The Bridgeport Islanders entered the All-Star break with two wins in three games last week, beating the Springfield Thunderbirds twice at home.
Cole Bardreau had five points, including a season-high two goals and three points on Friday, while Carsen Twarynski scored his first two goals in consecutive home games.
Twarynski’s first goal as an Islander stood as the game winner in a 3-1 victory over the Thunderbirds at Total Mortgage Arena last Wednesday. Twarynski, Bardreau, and Jeff Kubiak teamed up for three unanswered tallies in the third period to spark the comeback win. Eetu Liukas chipped in an AHL career-high two assists and Jakub Skarek (4-16-4) made 21 saves. Bridgeport outshot Springfield 43-22, reaching a new season high in shots on goal.
Bardreau and the Islanders kept their foot on the gas in the Friday night rematch, earning their largest margin of victory with a 5-1 win. Bardreau scored twice and Henrik Tikkanen (4-3-1) made an AHL career-high 37 saves at Total Mortgage Arena. Bardreau added an assist, while Matt Maggio, Twarynski, and Liukas also lit the lamp. Twarynski and Bardreau both found the back of the net for the second straight game. Ruslan Iskhakov, who represented Bridgeport at the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic this past weekend, posted his team-leading 21st assist and 34th point.
Bridgeport’s final game before break was a 4-0 loss in Hershey on Saturday. The Islanders tested Bears goaltender Hunter Shepard with 25 shots but failed to score for the seventh time this season. Ken Appleby (5-6-0) made 24 saves in his first AHL start since Dec. 30th.
The Islanders (13-25-5-0) return to action with a pair of games this weekend, facing the Hartford Wolf Pack (23-13-5-0) at the XL Center on Friday and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (18-18-5-2) inside Total Mortgage Arena on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. both nights. Bridgeport returns from the All-Star hiatus with just 29 games left in the regular season.
All of the action this season can be seen live on AHLTV or heard for free through the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network, beginning with the Connecticut Lottery Pregame Countdown 15 minutes prior to puck drop.
The Week Ahead:
Friday, Feb. 9th at Hartford (7 p.m.): The Islanders travel to Hartford for the third time this season, where the club is 1-1-0-0 so far. Bridgeport is 1-4-0-0 against the Wolf Pack overall including a 3-0 setback in their most recent meeting on Jan. 20th. The Islanders beat Hartford at the XL Center on Dec. 22nd, led by William Dufour’s two-goal performance.
Saturday, Feb. 10th vs. Lehigh Valley (7 p.m.): The Islanders are back at Total Mortgage Arena this Saturday, facing the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate for the first time this season. It’s the first of six meetings overall and the first of three at home. The seventh-place Phantoms are directly ahead of Bridgeport in the Atlantic Division standings, currently holding a 12-point advantage.
Family Packs are available on Saturday and at every home game this season, which include four (4) tickets and meal vouchers for a hot dog, chips and soda/water starting at just $99.
Iskhakov Goes Viral: Ruslan Iskhakov sent the hockey world into a frenzy with a highlight-reel deke on Tucson’s Matthew Villalta during the 2024 AHL All-Star Challenge on Monday night. Watch it here! Iskhakov added two goals and two assists during the annual showcase event, which was held at Tech CU Arena in San Jose, California for the first time. The former second-round draft pick (2018) also participated in the puck control relay, accuracy shooting contest, and breakaway relay during the annual skills competition on Sunday. Iskhakov leads the Islanders in goals (13), assists (21), points (34), shots (104), multi-point games (10) and game-winning goals (4) this season.
The Killers: Bridgeport’s penalty kill is 14-for-14 over its last four games including a perfect 8-for-8 in two home games against Springfield last week. The Islanders’ home penalty kill stands at 87.9% (58-for-66), which is second in the AHL behind Hershey. Cole Bardreau scored Bridgeport’s second shorthanded goal of the season on Friday night, which made it 5-1.
Bridgeport Gets Gauthier: Forward Julien Gauthier cleared waivers and was loaned to Bridgeport by the New York Islanders on Saturday. The 26-year-old signed a two-year contract with the organization on July 5, 2023, and had nine points (five goals, four assists) in 27 NHL games this season. He played four games in the AHL last year, scoring two goals during his only stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack. Gauthier has 105 points (71 goals, 34 assists) in 188 AHL games between the Wolf Pack and Charlotte Checkers. He won the 2019 Calder Cup championship with the Checkers, and was selected with the 21st overall pick by Carolina in 2016 - one selection before Detroit took Dennis Cholowski.
Quick Hits: Kyle MacLean played both home games with Bridgeport last week before he was recalled by the New York Islanders over the weekend… He scored his first NHL goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night… Henrik Tikkanen has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last four starts, going 2-1-1 with a .957 save percentage over that span… The Islanders return from the break with four straight matchups against Atlantic Division opponents... Grant Hutton is expected to play his 200th AHL game on Friday (all with Bridgeport).
Across the Sound: The New York Islanders (21-17-12) earned a 3-2 win in Toronto on Monday. Kyle MacLean scored his first NHL goal against Ilya Samsonov early in the second period, with his father John (Islanders assistant coach) behind the bench. Mat Barzal and Pierre Engvall also scored for the Islanders, who swept the season series against the Maple Leafs for the first time since 1989-90. New York returns to action with a pair of home games later this week, hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
By Alan Fuehring | Bridgeport Islanders