Kieffer Bellows scored his first professional hat trick in dramatic fashion on Saturday, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-16-4-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, suffered a 4-3 overtime loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds (17-16-3-0) at Webster Bank Arena.
Ethan Prow netted the game-winner just 25 seconds into the extra frame to get the second point for the Thunderbirds. Jakub Skarek (3-5-1) made 28 saves on 33 shots, while Phillip Desrosiers (9-4-1) picked up the win in net for Springfield. Bridgeport trailed by two at the second intermission and we’re down by one in the final 28 seconds when Bellows recorded his third goal.
Bellows now has nine goals in his last eight games and 12 in his last 13.
The first period was mostly even between the two teams and neither goaltender allowed a tally in the opening 20 minutes. However, the Thunderbirds wasted little time in getting on the scoresheet in the second. After making an impressive pad save in front of the cage, Paul Thompson lifted a shot over Skarek’s glove to give Springfield the 1-0 lead. It was Thompson’s ninth goal of the season and his third in the last six games at the 3:47 mark.
Nick Schilkey was sent to the box for high-sticking at 15:51, and the T-Birds were gifted a 5-on-3 when Kyle Burroughs was called for boarding 24 seconds later. The Sound Tigers successfully killed it off and Schilkey almost scored right out of the box, but just after the long penalty kill ended, Jack Rodewald walked down the left wing and put Springfield up by two with just 1:24 to go in the period.
A power-play opportunity in the first seven minutes of the third period changed the complexion of the game entirely. With Rodrigo Abols in the box for hooking, Bellows continued his dominance and lit the lamp in his sixth consecutive home game (longest streak in the AHL this season). He knocked home a backhand centering feed from Colin McDonald to make it 2-1 at the 8:01 mark.
Less than three minutes later, Bellows scored his second goal of the game and his 12th of the season on a deflection from the doorstep during a delayed penalty. Josh Ho-Sang’s pass intended for the back post found Bellows’ stick blade and the Sound Tigers knotted up the game at 10:51. Ho-Sang has registered a point in each of his three games this season (three assists).
With overtime looking like a possibility, Jake Massie put Springfield back on top with a wrist shot past Skarek for his first AHL goal at 15:36. Desperation set in for Bridgeport and with timing winding down, Skarek was pulled for an extra attacker. Bellows completed the hat trick in dramatic fashion with his team-leading 13th goal of the year at the 19:32 mark. He pocketed a rebound on Parker Wotherspoon’s long wrist shot from the point.
The Sound Tigers outshot Springfield 25-7 in the third period after being topped 16-3 in the second.
In overtime, Prow turned and twisted a shot underneath Skarek’s leg pads at the 25-second mark to give the Thunderbirds their sixth win beyond regulation this year (6-2).
Bridgeport went 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in their final home game of 2019.