Hofer Delivers Huge Performance in T-Birds Win at Bridgeport

December 4, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Hofer stops a shot by the Bridgeport Islanders
Springfield Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Hofer stops a shot by the Bridgeport Islanders
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (8-10-0-4) rode a fantastic netminding performance to a 3-1 win over the Bridgeport Islanders (13-3-4-0) on Sunday afternoon at Total Mortgage Arena, snapping a five-game winless slide in the process.

Springfield's man advantage could not buy a goal on Friday or Saturday, going a combined 0-for-12, but on Sunday afternoon, Matthew Highmore changed that unit's fortunes at 13:28 of the first period. Hugh McGing's initial one-timer from the right circle bounced off the chest of Islanders goalie Jakub Skarek and down to the feet of Nikita Alexandrov, who neatly found Highmore at the edge of the crease. Highmore potted it along the ice to hand the T-Birds the 1-0 edge.

Looking to bounce back from a loss on Friday, Joel Hofer was dialed in through the first 40 minutes, as he had answers for all 23 Bridgeport shots, while his penalty kill also stepped up to deny the Atlantic Division's top power play three times in the first two frames. At the other end, Skarek was instrumental in keeping Bridgeport close, coming up with a breakaway save on McGing in the second period, as well as point-blank saves off of Greg Printz and Drew Callin on nearly back-to-back chances. As a result, the 1-0 score carried into the third period for a second straight night.

Unlike recent games, this time around the Thunderbirds found an all-important insurance goal just 14 seconds into the third. Moments after Callin was clipped by a high stick, bringing about a delayed penalty, Printz raced to the loose puck in the neutral zone, stormed the crease, and slipped a backhander around Skarek to give Springfield the 2-0 lead to start the final period.

Springfield's penalty kill did its job for a fourth and final time, fending off Bridgeport's fourth-ranked power play for a minute and drawing a penalty on the Islanders themselves in the opening half of the third.

Hofer never wavered from that point forward, making 32 consecutive saves before a strange Sam Bolduc shot found its way home with just 50 seconds to play. Bolduc's stick snapped in half on the point slap shot, fooling the T-Birds netminder and getting Bridgeport back to within a goal, 2-1.

However, on this day, the Thunderbirds made sure there would be no comeback, and Nikita Alexandrov's empty-net tally, his second goal in two days, rounded out the scoring with just over a second to play.

The Thunderbirds return home for back-to-back contests against new opponents on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9 and Dec. 10, against the Grand Rapids Griffins and Milwaukee Admirals, respectively.

Thunderbirds fans can reserve their seats for the 2022-23 season and lock in the best prices and member benefits by calling (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visiting

Images from this story

Springfield Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Hofer stops a shot by the Bridgeport Islanders
Springfield Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Hofer stops a shot by the Bridgeport Islanders


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