Subban Superb, But Isles Squeak Out OT WinNov 11, 2023
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (7-6-1-0) got a terrific netminding performance, but the offense went cold in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bridgeport Islanders (4-6-1-0) on Saturday night at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport.
The starting goaltenders were the best performers in the opening period. Malcolm Subban got the nod for the T-Birds after a strong relief effort in Providence on Friday and helped Springfield kill off a pair of Islander power plays in the first, denying nine shots in the period. At the other end, Ken Appleby was far busier than he was last Sunday when he needed to make just 17 saves in 60 minutes against the T-Birds. He had an answer for all 11 Springfield shots in the first frame.
The scoreless affair was broken at the 5:54 mark in the second period. After Springfield failed to generate a chance on an odd-man rush, it sprung the Islanders into the T-Birds zone on a 3-on-1, and Ruslan Iskhakov elected to take the shot himself from the right circle, slipping it between Subban's legs to give Bridgeport the 1-0 advantage and snap a streak of more than 75 minutes without a goal for the Isles.
Despite some shaky moments in the stanza, the T-Birds fought back to even the score at 15:28. Near the end of a shift, Will Bitten entered the offensive zone on the left wing, dropping a pass at the top of the left circle for Joey Duszak. After stumbling slightly, Duszak regathered his footing and surprised Appleby with a low shot along the ice that sneaked home, equaling things at 1-1. Bitten picked up his first assist of the year, while Duszak's tally was his first goal as a Thunderbird.
Subban remained stout in between the pipes, as he shut down each of the other 13 shots he faced in the period, allowing just the Iskhakov wrister to beat him, taking the 1-1 tie into the final 20 minutes.
Shots and chances heavily favored the Islanders in the third period, as Springfield just a single shot on goal in the final 20 minutes. Subban, though, maintained his poise and nearly singlehandedly earned a standings point for the T-Birds, forcing the 1-1 tie into overtime.
After winning their first two overtime games of the season, Springfield could not make it three straight, as Iskhakov stormed up the ice to create a 2-on-1 with Sam Asselin with under a minute left in overtime. Asselin hit Iskhakov in stride, and the skilled winger made no mistake in beating Subban on the stick side to seal the victory at 4:08 of extra time.
The T-Birds continue the road swing with a visit to Hartford for an 11:00 a.m. school day game on Wednesday. The T-Birds come back home next Friday, Nov. 17 for another Deuces Wild Friday at the Thunderdome, where the T-Birds will take on the Utica Comets for their first of four matchups on the season, with puck drop at 7:05 p.m.
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.