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Walker's Two Goals, Cross' Three Assists Not Enough vs. Isles

January 23, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Springfield Thunderbirds News Release

Springfield Thunderbirds handle the puck vs. the Bridgeport Islanders
Springfield Thunderbirds handle the puck vs. the Bridgeport Islanders
(Springfield Thunderbirds)

BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Springfield Thunderbirds (19-12-4-1) got great performances from two of its veteran leaders, but could not escape with two points, falling in overtime, 4-3, to the Bridgeport Islanders (15-18-3-4) on Sunday afternoon inside Webster Bank Arena.

The Thunderbirds began their ninth meeting with Bridgeport on the right foot, taking just 16 seconds on their first power play in the opening period to take a 1-0 lead. After working the puck around the umbrella to Hugh McGing in the left circle, the young winger spotted Nathan Walker at the edge of the crease with a crisp shot-pass, and the Australian spark plug tipped it in behind Jakub Skarek to give Springfield the edge at the 11:28 mark.

Less than a minute later, the T-Birds thought they would be going to a power-play again when Chris Terry was caught on a roughing penalty, but a Springfield penalty later in the delayed call sequence negated the man advantage and made it a 4-on-4 sequence. Bridgeport took full advantage, as Otto Koivula parked himself in front of Joel Hofer's net and deflected a Parker Wotherspoon shot in behind the Springfield netminder to tie the game at 13:03, just 1:35 after the Walker tally.

The Thunderbirds bounced back early in the second to the tune of eight of the first ten shots in the middle period. Tommy Cross picked up a second helper in the contest at 4:01 of the period by alertly banking a point shot off the end boards, creating a perfect carom for Sam Anas to finish in front of the crease to make it a 2-1 lead for Springfield. Anas' 11th goal of the season extended his season-high point streak to eight games in a row.

This time, Springfield would maintain its lead for a longer stretch, but still would have to deal with an answer from the Islanders. Off an innocent-looking faceoff win at 14:37, Thomas Hickey let a slap shot fly from the center point position. The puck knuckled and dipped on its way to the goalmouth before evading Hofer, tying the game in bizarre fashion, 2-2.

Bridgeport then got its first power play, and like Springfield in the first, they wasted little time getting their man advantage on the board. Andy Andreoff found a soft spot in the middle of the offensive zone, and Koivula found him with a perfect set-up from the left circle. Andreoff turned and beat Hofer down low to give the Islanders their first lead, 3-2, at 16:34.

With seemingly little momentum left on their side, the T-Birds reached deep down into their guts and pulled out the tying strike just 1:19 later. Cross would pick up his third helper of the day when he spotted Walker on a beautiful two-line connection from his own zone. Walker caught the Islanders on a change and sped down the center lane and beat Skarek low to the blocker side on the breakaway to tie the score, 3-3, heading into the final period.

Both teams' penalty-killing units rebounded from tough first reps to keep the game deadlocked in the final period. Bridgeport killed off one Springfield advantage, while the T-Birds twice fended off the Bridgeport man advantage.

For a third time in nine meetings this season, the game went beyond regulation. After Hofer and Skarek traded high-pressure saves, the Islanders broke through to get the extra point in the standings when Hickey and Terry worked a perfect criss-cross in the offensive zone, as Hickey slid a backhand pass to the crease, where Terry fielded and beat Hofer to the blocker side to give Bridgeport the overtime win, 4-3, at the 1:15 mark of overtime.

The Thunderbirds conclude the road trip on Wednesday night in Hartford for a makeup game against the Wolf Pack inside the XL Center. Springfield will then return home on Friday, Jan. 28, and Saturday, Jan. 29 to face the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Providence Bruins respectively.

For more information on the Springfield Thunderbirds and to order tickets, please visit To learn more about becoming a Thunderbirds ticket member, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) to speak to a Thunderbirds representative.

Images from this story

Springfield Thunderbirds handle the puck vs. the Bridgeport Islanders
Springfield Thunderbirds handle the puck vs. the Bridgeport Islanders


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