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 Bridgeport Islanders

The Bridgeport Report: Week 24

March 27, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Bridgeport Islanders News Release

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Julien Gauthier kept his goal-scoring streak alive, Ruslan Iskhakov chipped in three points, and the Bridgeport Islanders were steady in their own end, orchestrating a sweep of the Utica Comets and Lehigh Valley Phantoms this past weekend.

The Islanders (22-33-6-1) finished a five-game road trip with back-to-back wins in a pair of hostile venues, heading home with added momentum as the club opens a three-game homestand this weekend.

Gauthier scored for the third straight game and Iskhakov recorded his team-leading 12th multi-point performance of the season on Saturday, lifting Bridgeport to a 2-1 win over Lehigh Valley at PPL Center. Iskhakov's team-leading 17th goal at 13:30 of the second period proved to be the difference. It was also his team-best 44th point and fifth game winner. Between the pipes, Ken Appleby (8-9-0) made 24 saves. The Islanders improved to 2-1-0-1 in four games against the Phantoms this season.

Twenty-four hours prior, Bridgeport took New Jersey's affiliate to a shootout and then prevailed in a 2-1 final at the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday. Jakub Skarek (7-19-5) was sensational with 35 saves and Iskhakov showcased another masterclass shootout move, deking around goaltender Nico Daws and finishing on the backhand. Gauthier notched a game-tying, power-play goal midway through the second period, before Iskhakov became the only scorer in a three-round shootout against the Comets.

The Islanders, who remain 11 points out of a playoff spot with 10 games left, return to action on Friday and kick off a three-game homestand that bleeds into April. Bridgeport faces the Charlotte Checkers (33-23-6-0) in back-to-back contests before welcoming the Comets (27-25-4-5) to Total Mortgage Arena on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m.

All of the action this season can be seen live on AHLTV or heard for free through the Bridgeport Islanders Radio Network, beginning with the Connecticut Lottery Pregame Countdown 15 minutes prior to puck drop.


The Week Ahead:

Friday, Mar. 29th vs. Charlotte (7 p.m.): The Islanders welcome the Florida Panthers' affiliate to Total Mortgage Arena for the first of two consecutive meetings this weekend. Bridgeport is 2-3-1-0 against Charlotte this season following a 4-3 overtime win in their last tilt on Jan. 7th at home. Ruslan Iskhakov's second goal of the day ended the game 3:22 into OT. In fact, each of the last three meetings have gone to overtime dating back to Dec. 16th in Charlotte. Tickets for Friday's game are on sale now.

Saturday, Mar. 30th vs. Charlotte (7 p.m.): The Islanders and Checkers tangle in a 7 p.m. rematch on 'Women in Sports' Night at Total Mortgage Arena. Join us in celebrating the women who work and compete in the sports community, including our very own Bridgeport Islanders and Total Mortgage Arena staff. Tickets for Saturday's contest are on sale now.

Tuesday, Apr. 2nd vs. Utica (10:30 a.m.): The Islanders kick off April with an untraditional start time, dropping the puck before noon for the second and final time this season. The Islanders cap a three-game homestand with morning hockey against the Utica Comets in their annual "Spring Fun 101" school-day event. Bridgeport is 2-1-0-0 against the Devils' affiliate this season, with both of their wins coming past regulation.


Ice Chips:

Gauthier Goes for Four: Julien Gauthier will look to score a goal for the fourth straight game on Friday, which would be the longest streak for any Bridgeport player this season and the longest of Gauthier's career. The 26-year-old has scored in four of his last five games and has four of the Islanders' last six goals in regulation. However, all eight (5g, 3a) of his points with Bridgeport have come solely on the road. Two other Islanders have strung together three-game goal streaks this season: William Dufour (Jan. 7-Jan. 13) and Matt Maggio (Mar. 2-Mar. 8).

Jefferies Joins the Lineup: Alex Jefferies, the New York Islanders' fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft (121st overall), made his professional debut last Friday and notched two shots-on-goal and a primary assist on Julien Gauthier's power-play strike. The 22-year-old winger signed an amateur tryout agreement (ATO) with Bridgeport on Wednesday after completing his fourth and final season at Merrimack College earlier this month. He recorded 23 points (13g, 10a) in 22 games and earned a Hobey Baker Award nomination, which recognizes the top amateur player in the United States.

Iskhakov Improves His Totals: Ruslan Iskhakov has four points (2g, 2a) in his last five games and extended his team highs in most offensive categories this past weekend. The two-time AHL All-Star leads Bridgeport in goals (17), assists (27), points (44), power-play points (12) and game-winning goals (5). His 17th goal of the season on Saturday tied his career high and was his first game winner this year that didn't come in overtime. Iskhakov has seven points (2g, 5a) in 12 career games against Charlotte entering back-to-back games this weekend.

Quick Hits: Seven of Bridgeport's final 10 games will take place at Total Mortgage Arena... The Islanders are 5-2-1-1 in their last nine home games... Bridgeport has gone past regulation 17 times this season, tied for fourth most in the AHL... Matt Kopperud, who signed an ATO with Bridgeport out of Arizona State University last Wednesday, is still looking to make his professional debut... New York's sixth-round pick in 2020, defenseman Matias Rajaniemi, joined Bridgeport on an ATO this morning.


Across the Sound: The New York Islanders (30-26-15) begin a three-game road trip on Thursday, six points out of a playoff spot with 11 games remaining. The Islanders face the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Philadelphia Flyers during their upcoming trip. Last time out, New York suffered a 4-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday after defeating the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, 6-3. Bridgeport grad Brock Nelson is tied for the team lead with 29 goals in 71 games.

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