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 Springfield Thunderbirds

Pesky Isles Get Better of T-Birds, 5-3

February 25, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds left wing Jakub Vrana
Springfield Thunderbirds left wing Jakub Vrana
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Springfield Thunderbirds (24-22-3-2) fell to the Bridgeport Islanders (16-28-6-1) on Sunday afternoon at Total Mortgage Arena by a final score of 5-3.

Things appeared to be starting well for the T-Birds on this day, as Sam Bitten cashed in for his first career AHL goal at the 8:19 mark of the first period when he arrived at the top of the crease and jammed a Drew Callin centering pass through Henrik Tikkanen's legs to make it 1-0 for the visitors.

Springfield increased the lead to 2-0 at 12:54 when Ryan Suzuki sent an alley-oop through the neutral zone that landed inside the Islander blue line. Jakub Vrana accelerated to beat the Bridgeport defender to the puck and then slid a backhand shot through Tikkanen to extend the lead on his ninth goal of the season.

55 seconds after the Vrana tally, though, the Islanders made their way to the scoresheet as Tyce Thompson got a step behind the defense and lifted a perfect backhand shot over Colten Ellis to cut the lead to 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

The second period began uneventfully, but Suzuki changed matters when he powered down the right wing, protecting the puck before elevating a forehand chip shot over Tikkanen to make it a 3-1 game at 6:34 of the period.

Ellis remained busy but strong as the period entered its final three minutes en route to a career-high 49 saves. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, Bridgeport All-Star Ruslan Iskhakov snapped a goal drought dating back to Jan. 15 to singlehandedly pull the Isles even. First, the crafty centerman made his way to the edge of the crease near the right circle, beating Ellis on a second chance after the T-Bird goalie made a strong reactionary save on the first attempt. That tally cut the score to 3-2 at 17:08.

Not even two minutes later, now with under a minute to go in the period, Iskhakov delivered the equalizer with a one-time rocket off a circle-to-circle pass from Matt Maggio, and Bridgeport headed into the dressing room with new life in the 3-3 game.

The Islanders were relentless in the final 20 minutes, managing 22 shots on the T-Birds net. Ellis and the Springfield defense held the fort as long as they could before a Sam Bolduc point wrister glanced off traffic and skipped past Ellis to give Bridgeport the lead for good at 11:34 of the third. Hudson Fasching rounded out the scoring with a power-play marker into an empty net in the closing seconds.

The T-Birds' busy stretch continues next Friday in Providence as they tangle with the Bruins at Amica Mutual Pavilion. Springfield returns home on Saturday when they host the Laval Rocket at 7:05 p.m. at the MassMutual Center.

Fans can reserve seats for Thunderbirds hockey action throughout the 2023-24 season by calling (413)-739-GOAL (4625) or visiting

Images from this story

Springfield Thunderbirds left wing Jakub Vrana
Springfield Thunderbirds left wing Jakub Vrana


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American Hockey League Stories from February 25, 2024

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