The Bridgeport Report: Week 6Nov 23, 2021
The Bridgeport Islanders (5-9-1-2) finished up a five-game road trip and returned to Webster Bank Arena last week in a trio of games against the top two teams in the Atlantic Division.
New York Islanders draft picks Simon Holmstrom (one goal, three assists) and Otto Koivula (one goal, two assists) were key for the American Hockey League club, which suffered three losses at the hands of the Springfield Thunderbirds (12-2-2-0) and Hartford Wolf Pack (11-3-2-0).
The Islanders scored three times in the first period on Wednesday night, including two from Blade Jenkins, but dropped a 4-3 decision in Hartford to open the week. It was the second time in as many trips to the XL Center that Jenkins scored twice, with his two goals coming just 2:44 apart. Koivula added a power-play goal and Jakub Skarek (5-3-2) made 28 saves in his first regulation loss since the season opener on Oct. 15th.
Bridgeport moved on to face Springfield twice over the weekend, beginning with a 2-1 loss at the MassMutual Center on Saturday. Cory Schneider (0-5-0) made a season-high 36 saves and Cole Bardreau scored in his first game back from injury, assisted by Kyle MacLean and Jeff Kubiak. MacLean’s helper extended his point streak to six games, the longest for any Bridgeport player this year, and Kubiak’s assist came in his season debut.
Less than 24 hours later, Holmstrom (one goal, one assist) and Koivula (two assists) each earned a multi-point effort in a 5-2 setback to the Thunderbirds at Webster Bank Arena on Sunday. Parker Wotherspoon also collected his first goal of the season, which gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead early in the third period, but the Thunderbirds responded with four in a row to win their fourth straight game.
Bridgeport and Springfield meet again for the third time in five days tomorrow night, featuring a 6:05 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve matchup at MassMutual Center. The Islanders host the Providence Bruins (6-5-2-1) this Friday at 7 p.m. prior to Bridgeport’s first trip to Allentown, Penn. on Saturday. The Isles will face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3-8-4-1) at 7:05 p.m. Fans can follow all of the live action via the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network and AHLTV.
The Week Ahead
Wednesday, Nov. 24 at Springfield Thunderbirds (6:05 p.m.) - Bridgeport’s third consecutive mid-week matchup features the seventh meeting of the season between the Islanders and Thunderbirds. Springfield is 5-0-1-0 in the series and 3-0-0-0 in those games at home. Otto Koivula leads the Islanders with six points (all assists) in six games against the St. Louis Blues’ affiliate, which leads the Atlantic Division.
Friday, Nov. 26 vs. Providence Bruins (7 p.m.) – The Islanders host the Boston Bruins’ affiliate this Friday for “Hockey & Hops.” Enjoy a pre-game beer tasting event at Webster Bank Arena, showcasing local bars and breweries, prior to the third meeting of the season between Bridgeport and Providence. Each Hockey & Hops ticket package includes access to the tasting event, a Bridgeport Islanders tasting glass, and koozie. Click here for tickets and more information.
Saturday, Nov. 27 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (7:05 p.m.) – Bridgeport and Lehigh Valley square off for the first time this season at the PPL Center on Saturday. It’s the first of six matchups between the division rivals and the first of three in Allentown.
Helping Hand: Otto Koivula notched his third multi-point game of the season with two assists on Sunday, giving him a team-high 12 helpers and 15 points in 17 games. Koivula’s 12 assists are tied for the most among all active AHL players and his 15 points are tied for 10th in the league. He has at least one point in 12 of his last 15 games.
Sixth Sense: Kyle MacLean’s recent point streak hit six games over the weekend, tying his career best and becoming Bridgeport’s longest scoring streak this season. MacLean had two goals and five assists in six straight games beginning Nov. 7th but was held quiet on Sunday afternoon. He also recorded points in six consecutive games as a rookie last year (Apr. 5, 2021 – Apr. 24, 2021).
Salo, Hutton Make NHL Debuts: Four players who began the season with Bridgeport made their New York Islanders debuts at UBS Arena on Saturday, including defensemen Robin Salo and Grant Hutton, who also made their NHL debuts. Richard Panik and Andy Andreoff also played for the parent club. All four players were recalled by New York this past week, along with defenseman Paul LaDue. Salo led all Bridgeport defensemen with eight points (two goals, six assists) in 14 games and Hutton scored twice in 10 contests.
McCarthy Makes AHL Debut: Rookie defenseman Connor McCarthy was recalled from the Worcester Railers (ECHL) on Saturday and made his AHL debut later that night in Springfield. McCarthy played again on Sunday and finished the weekend with five shots-on-goal in two games. The 25-year-old had two assists and a team-high plus-5 rating in 10 games with Worcester following a four-year career at Clarkson University. He served as an alternate captain with the Golden Knights and was named to the ECAC’s First All-Star Team as a senior.
Quick Hits: In addition to McCarthy, forwards Felix Bibeau and Paul Thompson, as well as defenseman Mike Cornell, have been recalled from Worcester… Forward Collin Adams was reassigned to Bridgeport by the New York Islanders today… Simon Holmstrom is second on the team in assists (nine) and tied for third in scoring (11 points, one behind Arnaud Durandeau)… Jakub Skarek is fifth among all AHL goalies in minutes played (625:28)… He is 5-3-2 with a 3.07 goals-against-average and .901 save percentage through 11 appearances… Blade Jenkins, who scored twice in Hartford last Wednesday, has points in four of his last five games and is tied for second on the team in goals (five).
Goals: Chris Terry (6)
Assists: Otto Koivula (12)
Points: Otto Koivula (15)
Plus/Minus: Seth Helgeson (+4)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (33)
Shots: Andy Andreoff (47)
Games Played: Four Tied (17)
Across the Sound: Former Bridgeport forward Brock Nelson scored twice in the inaugural game at UBS Arena on Saturday night, but an undermanned New York Islanders team fell to the Calgary Flames, 5-2. New York returned to the ice on Sunday night and suffered a 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, its sixth straight setback. Nelson, who paces the club in goals (nine) and points (11), will look to lead the Islanders back into the win column tomorrow night in a 7:30 p.m. tilt against the New York Rangers at UBS Arena.