Springfield Thunderbirds

T-Birds Stuff Islanders on Teddy Bear Toss Night, 5-1

December 9, 2023 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds' Will Bitten on Teddy Bear Toss night
Springfield Thunderbirds' Will Bitten on Teddy Bear Toss night
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Springfield Thunderbirds (12-8-2-0) thoroughly controlled the game and came away with a defiant 5-1 win over the Bridgeport Islanders (6-15-1-0) on Saturday night before a sold-out crowd of 6,793 for the annual Teddy Bear Toss.

Fans did not have to wait long to chuck their stuffed animals onto the ice, as Mathias Laferriere cleaned up a loose puck rebound in front of Jakub Skarek and tucked it home on the backhand just 1:40 into the game, bringing about thousands of bears raining onto the ice sheet.

After a delay in picking up all the stuffed donations, the T-Birds picked right up where they left off, and just 6:10 after the Laferriere goal, the top line generated another marker. Adam Gaudette connected on a pass to the right side to Nathan Walker. Dylan Coghlan quickly raced up into the play as a trailer and perfectly placed a wrist shot over Skarek's blocker arm to make it a 2-0 game at 7:50.

Vadim Zherenko was mostly untested in the T-Birds' net, as the offense for both teams went dry for well over the next 30 minutes of game action.

The game's temperature then rose at the 3:18 mark of the third as Sam Bitten and Travis Mitchell dropped the mitts in an old-school style scrap, bringing up the noise on both benches and inside the building. When the game moved to 4-on-4 following matching minors three minutes later, the T-Birds put the game out of reach with two goals in short order.

First, Calle Rosen drifted back toward his blue line and stunned the Islanders with a perfect diagonal pass to a streaking Walker, who beat Skarek with a backhander to make it 3-0 at 7:18 of the third. Just 22 seconds later, Walker was the distributor off the rush, setting up Wyatt Kalynuk for a snapper through Skarek's five-hole, and in a matter of a half minute, the lead had ballooned to 4-0 for the T-Birds.

Matt Maggio broke up Zherenko's shutout bid with a shot that caromed off a defender and through Zherenko's legs at 10:27 to make it a 4-1 game, but that would be all the Isles could muster on this night.

Coghlan would add his second of the night on Walker's fourth point of the evening, blasting a one-time power play slapper through Skarek's legs at 13:59, rounding out the scoring with his seventh goal of the year and his second multi-goal game.

For the first time this season, the T-Birds went the full 60 minutes without having to play shorthanded, and Springfield scored on their lone power play chance to make it a perfect night in special teams. Zherenko got his fourth straight win with 34 saves. In his last four outings, the second year netminder has stopped 126 out of 132 shots.

Springfield looks to extend its four-game point streak on Wednesday, Dec. 13 as they welcome the Rochester Americans to the Thunderdome for the first and only time this season. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday.

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


Images from this story

Springfield Thunderbirds' Will Bitten on Teddy Bear Toss night
Springfield Thunderbirds' Will Bitten on Teddy Bear Toss night


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