Otto Koivula’s first goal of the season came 29 seconds into overtime on Thursday as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3-7-0-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned a 4-3 win against the Hartford Wolf Pack (3-5-1-0) at Webster Bank Arena.
Koivula skated to the doorstep and tapped home Mitch Vande Sompel’s backhand centering pass to cap a come-from-behind victory and snap Bridgeport’s three-game slide. Islanders draft picks Simon Holmstrom, Cole Coskey and Samuel Bolduc also found the back of the net, and Ken Appleby (1-0-0-0) made 20 saves in his Sound Tigers debut.
With the win, Bridgeport improved to 2-1-0-0 against the Wolf Pack this season and 2-0-0-0 in those games at Webster Bank Arena.
Following a quiet opening period, each team scored twice in the second beginning with two goals from Hartford. Ty Ronning put the Wolf Pack out front at the 3:14 mark when he cleaned up a rebound produced by Patrick Khodorenko’s heavy wrist shot from above the left circle. It was Ronning’s first of two goals on the afternoon and his second of the season, which came at even strength.
Mike O’Leary made it 2-0 less than four minutes later with his first professional goal and point. Former Sound Tiger Anthony Greco raced down the left wing, settled a pass from Paul Thompson, and cut towards the back of the net before centering a pass for O’Leary’s quick strike.
The Sound Tigers rallied with three consecutive goals to establish their first lead of the game, starting with Holmstrom’s third goal of the season at 7:58 of the second period. Tanner Fritz crossed the blue line with speed and ripped a shot at Hartford’s Tyler Wall from above the right circle, which created a rebound that Holmstrom flipped over the displaced goaltender. Kyle MacLean also collected his first pro assist on the play.
The only power-play goal came off the stick of Coskey at the 15:22 mark when he buried his second pro goal to make it 2-2. Coskey and Bode Wilde played catch at the parameter before Coskey wired a one-time slap shot past Wall’s glove from the left wing. It was Bridgeport’s first power-play goal at home this season.
Bolduc’s third pro goal and fifth point in three games against Hartford put the Sound Tigers ahead 3-2 just 65 seconds into the third. Koivula found Dmytro Timashov in the offensive zone and the latter circled behind the net before serving up Bolduc in the high slot. Bolduc didn’t miss on a perfectly-placed snap shot.
The pendulum continued to swing shortly after when Ronning tied the game at 3-3 with his third goal in three AHL games this season at 4:50. Immediately following Justin Richards’ faceoff win in the Bridgeport zone, Darren Raddysh hammered a slap shot towards the front of the net where Ronning tipped it past Parker Wotherspoon and Appleby.
Golden changes for both teams in the final 15 minutes of regulation didn’t translate to a goal and the Sound Tigers, who were one of just three AHL teams that hadn’t gone past 60 minutes this season, saw overtime hockey. Koivula ended the contest less than a half-minute in and was awarded the game’s first star.
Bridgeport finished the afternoon 1-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. The Sound Tigers outshot the Wolf Pack 30-23.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to action on Saturday, Mar. 27th with a 1 p.m. rematch against the Wolf Pack inside the XL Center. Fans can follow all of the live action via AHLTV or the Sound Tigers Radio Network, beginning with the pre-game show at 12:45 p.m.