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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (20-30-5-2), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, scored a season-high four goals in the second period to pave the way to a 6-3 win against the Springfield Thunderbirds (30-25-2-0) on Friday night at MassMutual Center.
Kieffer Bellows scored twice in his first game back following eight contests with the Islanders, while Thomas Hickey notched his first three points of the season (three assists). Hickey and Sebastian Aho each had a plus-four rating as five of the Sound Tigers’ six goals came at even strength.
Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (7-7-5) made 37 saves on 40 shots to help Bridgeport snap a four-game slide.
Springfield got off to a hot start scoring each of the first two goals and outshooting the Sound Tigers 17-6 in the opening frame. Emil Djuse loaded and hammered a slap shot through traffic and past Gibson’s glove just 4:55 into the game to make it 1-0 in his Thunderbirds’ debut. Chase Priskie also recorded a goal in his Springfield debut at 8:52 of the second period, firing a one-time shot from between the circles following Daniel Audette’s diagonal pass from deep on the left wing.
The Sound Tigers answered with four straight goals to take the lead and ended the night with six of the final seven tallies. Mason Jobst got Bridgeport to within one at 11:11 of the second period with his fifth goal of the season. Nick Schilkey guided the puck into open space and Jobst found some daylight before executing a beautiful back-and-forth move in front of goaltender Chris Driedger. He scored on the forehand to make it 2-1 and Travis St. Denis tied the game just 25 seconds later with a redirect on Aho’s blue-liner blast.
Bellows put the Sound Tigers out front at 16:09 of the middle frame when he finished a scramble at the doorstep in his return from Long Island. Hickey settled the puck at the blue line and guided a shot to the crease that was knocked down and played into open space by Jeff Kubiak. Driedger went down on his stomach but couldn’t cover and Bellows flipped a shot home to make it 3-2.
Nearly three minutes later, Oliver Wahlstrom buried his eighth goal of the season in the final 45 seconds of the middle stanza to cap Bridgeport’s impressive period. Hickey fed a diagonal pass directly on the mark and Wahlstrom put a shot off the post and in from a tough angle, below the right circle.
Audette kept the Sound Tigers on their toes and got Springfield back to within one with the game’s only power-play goal at 14:12 of the third. With Ryan Bourque in the box for hooking, Priskie hammered a slap shot into a crowd that Danick Martel bumped back to Audette for a quick snapshot past Gibson’s glove. It was as close as the Thunderbirds got to a comeback.
Bellows extended Bridgeport’s lead at 15:01 of the third period with his second of the night and team-leading 18th goal of the season. Kubiak attempted a wraparound that resulted in the puck sliding free to the slot where Bellows forced it home to make it 5-3.
Kyle Burroughs ended the tilt with an empty-net tally at the 19:02 mark, shortly after his slashing penalty ended. Burroughs rushed out of the box and onto a loose puck before placing his second goal of the season into the back of an exposed cage.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-2 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. Springfield led in shots, 40-34.
With the win, Bridgeport improved to 5-5-1-0 against Springfield this year.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena tomorrow evening for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack, featuring Marvel Super Hero Night and Scout Night! Meet Spider-Man, Hulk, Black Widow and Thor throughout the game, and all scout groups are invited to spend the night following the contest. Please contact John Reis at 203-345-4848 for more information on Scout Night. Click here to purchase a $25 package for Marvel Super Hero Night! Each package includes a ticket to the game, and a food voucher valid for one (1) hot dog or slice of pizza, plus one (1) bag of chips and one (1) soft drink. This package is not available at the box office.
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 protected]. Follow the action all season long via www.soundtigers.com or by “liking” the Sound Tigers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.