Wotherspoon Scores Twice in 5-4 Loss in Springfield
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (12-11-1-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, went back and forth with the Springfield Thunderbirds (11-18-1-0) throughout their 60-minute affair on Friday, but were outlasted in a 5-4 loss at MassMutual Center.
Parker Wotherspoon scored twice in the contest, including his first professional tally midway through the opening frame, but Springfield received goals from five different players and Juho Lammikko registered three points (one goal, two assists) to propel the home team to victory. It was Bridgeport's fifth straight setback (0-4-0-1) and second in as many trips to Massachusetts.
Following a calm start to the game, Wotherspoon broke the ice and celebrated his first pro goal, shorthanded, at 13:57 of the opening period. With Travis St. Denis in the box for slashing, Shane Prince stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated over the blue line. He weaved his way to the slot and dropped a pass for a trailing Wotherspoon, who stepped into a forehand shot and ripped it past the glove of goaltender Samuel Montembeault. It was Bridgeport's first shorthanded goal of the season.
The Thunderbirds bounced back and took a 2-1 lead with a pair of goals a little more than two minutes apart late in the first period. Blaine Byron evened the score at the 17:49 mark when he was gifted with a fortunate bounce to record his sixth goal of the year. Ryan Horvat's centering feed caromed off of Christopher Gibson's leg pad and into the air before redirecting off of Byron's chest and in.
Just 2:03 later, Lammikko capitalized on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity for his fifth goal of the season. Mike Downing stripped the puck away just over the T-Birds' blue line and backhanded a stretch pass for Lammikko, who corralled it at the red line and charged straight towards the crease. He elevated a backhand shot over Gibson's stretched out glove for the shorthanded tally.
Casey Bailey made it 2-2 at 7:44 of the middle frame with his second goal in as many contests. Josh Ho-Sang, in his return to the lineup after being loaned from the New York Islanders on Friday afternoon, slid a pass to Tanner Fritz in the right circle, where the latter continued it to the slot. There, Bailey walked into a one-time blast that sailed past Montembeault.
Thirty-two seconds later, Scott Eansor regained Bridgeport's lead with his team-best 11th goal of the season. Seth Helgeson guided a long wrist shot from the blue line that Eansor redirected in the left circle, creating a skipping puck on Montembeault that he couldn't stop. Mitch Vande Sompel also earned an assist on the tally at the 8:16 mark.
The pendulum continued to swing during the middle stages of the second period and Springfield recovered its advantage with three goals in a span of 1:38, two of which were scored within nine seconds of each other. Horvat made it 3-3 when he converted on a two-on-one rush set up by Lammikko at the 12:39 mark. Lammikko skated down the left wing and slowed in the circle before sliding a pass to the weak side, where Horvat charged in and tapped it home.
Less than 10 seconds later, former Sound Tiger Anthony Greco put the Thunderbirds on top when he snapped a shot past Gibson's glove immediately following a faceoff win by Lammikko in the left circle. It was Greco's team-leading 10th goal of the season and Lammikko's third point of the night.
Curtis Valk followed with his eight goal of the year that chased Gibson from the crease at the 14:17 mark. The fourth-year forward received a pass from Jayce Hawryluk and hustled down the left wing before he lowered his shoulder, cut through the circle and muscled a forehand shot under Bridgeport's netminder. Kristers Gudlevskis replaced Gibson after 34:17 of work, resulting in the first goalie swap during a game this season.
Wotherspoon gave the Sound Tigers hope with his second goal of the night at 17:29 of the second period, assisted by Fritz and Michael Dal Colle. At even strength, Fritz directed a pass to the blue line where Wotherspoon slapped a one-time through traffic and in to make it 5-4.
The Sound Tigers pressured their opponent with relentless opportunities in the third period, and outshot Springfield 12-2, but came up empty in the 5-4 final. Bridgeport finished the game 0-for-6 on the power play, but a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
Gibson (8-6-0) was on the hook for the decision and suffered the loss with 14 saves on 19 shots, while Gudlevskis turned back all five chances he faced. In the opposite crease, Montembeault (5-11-1) answered 29 of the 33 shots he saw.
Bridgeport outshot Springfield 33-24.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena tomorrow night and continue a three-game weekend series with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Make sure to be there when doors open at 6 p.m. as the first 2,500 fans will receive a Christmas “Santa” version of the Sound Tigers' mascot, Storm, courtesy of Newtown Savings Bank. Tickets are available now. Other bobbleheads in this year's four-part series include Devon Toews (Jan. 20), former Sound Tiger and current New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson (Feb. 25), and Connor Jones (Apr. 8). In addition, Santa himself will be in attendance to meet fans and drop the ceremonial first puck of the game.
Guarantee Your Seats: Flex plans are on sale now for the 2017-18 campaign, offering the greatest savings and ultimate flexibility of all ticket packages. Pick between a full-season, 20-game, 15-game or 10-game plan and you'll also be entitled to exclusive benefits, including the ticket holder exchange policy, which means any unused tickets can be traded for future games. Please contact Brad Dworin at 203-345-4813 or via firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to guarantee your seats.
Don't Go It Alone: Whether it's a corporate outing, a fundraiser, or just friends getting together, a group outing with the Sound Tigers will guarantee an unforgettable experience filled with fast-paced action on the ice, great music, promotions and contests at an affordable price. The Sound Tigers have a variety of packages and promotional events to offer. Please call the team's front office at 203-345-2300 ext. 7 for more information on the benefits of bringing your group to a future game!
About the Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Founded in 2001, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Hockey Club is the top minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders. Don't miss your chance to take part in the family fun entertainment happening every home game at Webster Bank Arena. For further information on ticket or sponsorship opportunities, call our office at (203) 345-2300 or e-mail email@example.com. Keep up with the latest Sound Tigers news on Facebook and on Twitter. For more team information, log on to soundtigers.com.