Isles Clip T-Birds as Springfield Win Streak Comes to EndNov 5, 2023
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (6-5-0-0) could not withstand a late rally by the Bridgeport Islanders (3-5-1-0) in a 3-2 defeat on Sunday afternoon at Total Mortgage Arena.
For the first time in three games this weekend, it would be the T-Birds to get the 1-0 lead in the opening period. Operating a man down at the 8:40 mark, Nathan Walker picked up a feed from Calle Rosen and raced into the Islanders zone on a 2-on-1 with Matthew Peca. The captain served as a decoy and Walker wristed a try through the stick side of Ken Appleby, giving Springfield the 1-0 edge. The goal was Walker's seventh of the season and an AHL-best third shorthanded tally.
Walker's goal gave Springfield the lead, but the T-Birds had a difficult time generating much else in the opening 20 minutes, getting outshot 13-5 by Bridgeport in the first frame. While Springfield did successfully kill off nearly a minute of 5-on-3 Bridgeport power play time, the Islanders were able to parlay that offensive momentum into a tying strike by ex-Providence Bruin Sam Asselin at 16:44, when he grabbed a puck neatly off the right-wing wall, spun toward the faceoff dot, and snapped a shot through Vadim Zherenko to deadlock the game, 1-1, heading into the intermission. Asselin's goal marked the third straight Islanders goal scored by the top-line winger dating back over a four-game span.
The T-Birds' power play did not get a chance until the 4:52 mark of the second period, and Springfield did not wait even 10 seconds to get a man-advantage marker for the sixth time in seven games. After Peca won a faceoff, he moved the puck to Joey Duszak at the line, and the veteran defender lifted a wrist shot toward the net. Walker found himself in the middle of the action again, as he deflected it through Appleby's equipment to restore Springfield's lead, 2-1, at the 5:00 mark of the second.
The T-Birds kept on dealing with a relentless flurry of pressure from the Islanders, but Zherenko and the Springfield defense held the fort to take the 2-1 advantage into the third. Zherenko made 27 saves through the first two periods alone.
After a quiet first half of the third period, the T-Birds' defensive levee finally came apart at the 12:02 mark when Matthew Maggio cleaned up a rebound from a Robin Salo shot that had glanced off a T-Birds defender. Maggio tied the score at one apiece, and not even three minutes later, Salo joined the scoring fun, pumping home a rebound off a Karson Kuhlman net drive at 14:25 to give the Islanders their first lead, 3-2.
The T-Birds' offense could not find another tally before time ran out, and thus brought an end to the club's five-game win streak. Zherenko finished his night with 32 stops, while Appleby got his first win despite only needing to block 17 Springfield offerings.
Springfield returns home for the annual T-Birds School Day Game on Wednesday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for a 10:35 a.m. puck drop at the MassMutual Center.
Fans can reserve their seats to be a part of the Thunderbirds’ hockey action for the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.