RECAP: THUNDERBIRDS 5, SOUND TIGERS 3
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Ryan Bourque scored twice and Kellen Jones added his first goal of the season on Friday, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-16-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, saw their three-game win streak come to an end in a 5-3 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds (20-24-1-1) at MassMutual Center.
Former Sound Tiger Anthony Greco led the Thunderbirds with two goals on six shots and Evan Cowley (3-3-0) made 33 saves as Springfield pulled ahead in the season series 4-3-0-0. The home team has won each of the first seven meetings.
The Sound Tigers outshot Springfield 13-11 in the opening frame and received a pair of power plays when Ludwig Bystrom was called for back-to-back hooking penalties, but the Thunderbirds came away with the game's first goal, shorthanded, at the 17:08 mark. During Bystrom's second penalty, Chase Balisy forced the puck free in the neutral zone and Greco skated with it to the right circle, where he sent a heavy wrist shot off the glove of Kristers Gudlevskis. Bridgeport's netminder made the initial save, but the rebound skipped to the goal line extended and Greco banked home the loose puck.
The Sound Tigers responded just 72 seconds into the middle frame and tied the contest at 1-1, shortly after the club killed off a cross-checking penalty to Josh Holmstrom. It was a give-and-go effort between Kellen and Connor Jones, which resulted in Connor slipping a centering pass to Kellen in front, where he beat Cowley's glove.
The Thunderbirds quickly bounced back and took a 3-1 advantage prior to the second intermission. Thomas Schemitsch scored his sixth goal of the season at the 6:41 mark when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and took advantage of Parker Wotherspoon losing his balance, which led to a 2-on-1. Schemitsch skated the puck to the right circle and hammered home a slap shot past Gudlevskis' glove.
Greg Chase contributed his first of two points on the night (one goal, one assist) with a pin-point shot into the top right corner at the 17:09 mark. Chase crossed the blue line and guided a pass down the left wing to Balisy, where the second-year forward quickly returned the favor. Chase skated towards the left hash marks and directed a wrist shot over Gudlevskis' glove.
Mikkel Aagaard gave Springfield its largest lead of the evening three minutes into the third period with his fourth goal of the season. Bobby Farnham set it up from the left point when he twisted a pass down low that Chase scooped up and backhanded to the doorstep. Aagaard hustled to it and beat Gudlevskis with a forehand shot to make it 4-1.
Less than three minutes later, Bourque and the Sound Tigers proved they were not interested in going away quietly as the fifth-year forward scored his first of back-to-back goals to cut the deficit to one. The first came shorthanded on a hooking penalty to Travis St. Denis, in which John Stevens corralled the puck down low and skated to the front of the net. He forced a shot on target that Cowley kicked aside, but Bourque tapped home the rebound for Bridgeport's second shorthanded goal of the season.
Bourque's second of the period came at the 11:03 mark when he converted another rebound opportunity. Stevens flipped the puck to the right half wall and Steve Bernier met it there, firing a shot that Cowley kicked back through the slot. Bourque charged onto it and swept home the second chance past Springfield's diving netminder.
Greco capped the 5-3 final with his team-leading 17th goal of the season, and his seventh in as many games against Bridgeport, at 17:31. Balisy settled a pass from Maxime Fortunus and skated to the left circle where he ripped a shot that Gudlevskis turned aside, but Greco cleaned up the mess out front. Balisy recorded three helpers for the T-Birds.
Gudlevskis (6-8-4) made 27 saves in his third straight start, but saw his two-game win streak come to an end.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-2 on the power play, but 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport outshot Springfield 36-32.
About the Bridgeport Sound Tigers: Founded in 2001, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Hockey Club is the top minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders. Don't miss your chance to take part in the family fun entertainment happening every home game at Webster Bank Arena.
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