T-Birds Stumble in Bridgeport, 5-1Feb 2, 2024
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (20-19-3-2) could not recover from two early goals by the Bridgeport Islanders (13-24-5-0) in a 5-1 loss on Friday night at Total Mortgage Arena.
Things did not start on the right foot for the T-Birds this evening, as the Islanders' fourth line picked up where they left off on Wednesday to open the scoring. Cole Bardreau moved into the slot and redirected an Eetu Liukas wrist shot past a screened Colten Ellis to give Bridgeport a 1-0 lead.
Just over five minutes later, the Islanders added to their total as Matt Maggio slipped a shot under Ellis's glove hand to make it a 2-0 game at 7:32.
Despite the deficit, the T-Birds had an energetic and physical edge to their game, and just 1:24 after the Maggio tally, Springfield's efforts got a lucky reward as a Hunter Skinner point slapper ticked off an Islander defender and past a stunned Henrik Tikkanen, cutting the lead to 2-1 at 8:56. It was Skinner's second goal in the last three games, and with an assist on the goal, Hugh McGing picked up his 100th career AHL point.
Ellis bounced back from the two goals and locked it down in the back half of the first period, making a trio of strong saves off rush opportunities from Karson Kuhlman, William Dufour, and Jeff Kubiak.
The Springfield penalty kill was forced into work at the tail end of the first and in the opening half of period two. The unit got the job done both times, but as a result, the Islanders would generate nine of the first 10 second-period shots.
After nothing on the score sheet for the first 15 minutes of the middle stanza, the Islanders erupted for two in less than a minute to increase the lead to 4-1. Eetu Liukas deflected a Travis Mitchell shot off a draw win by Bardreau at 15:38, and Carsen Twarynski followed at 16:20 with a wrap chance around Ellis's right pad to bolster the lead for the home team.
Neither team could find much in the way of scoring chances in a tightly-checked third period. Tikkanen finished the night with 37 saves for his second straight win in as many starts against Springfield. With Ellis on the bench in the closing minutes, Bardreau potted an empty-netter to round out the scoring.
The T-Birds complete their three-game Connecticut swing on Saturday night as they square off against the Hartford Wolf Pack inside the XL Center at 7:00 p.m.
Fans can reserve seats for Thunderbirds hockey action throughout the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.