BRIDGEPORT, CT - Casey Bailey’s first goal of the season held up as the game-winner on Saturday as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (5-5-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, edged the Springfield Thunderbirds (2-9-1-0) in a 3-2 final at Webster Bank Arena.
Josh Ho-Sang and Tanner Fritz (one goal, one assist) also found the back of the net, while Christopher Gibson (3-3-0) made 24 saves en route to his third consecutive win. In addition, Bridgeport’s penalty kill played a major role in the team’s second straight victory, going 7-for-7 on the night.
Ho-Sang opened the scoring on a delayed penalty just 3:25 into the first period with his second tally of the season. Michael Dal Colle rushed across the blue line and was hooked from behind, but still created the chance with a cross-ice pass to Fritz that was immediately fed back in front for a redirection from Ho-Sang. Springfield netminder Harri Sateri moved laterally in the crease in an attempt to make the save, but couldn’t get there in time.
The Sound Tigers doubled their advantage at 10:19 of the middle frame when Fritz hammered a slap shot over Sateri’s glove from the left wing. The third-year forward skated to the half wall and received a pass from Seth Helgeson before beating Sateri inside the right post.
Less than six minutes later, Bailey made it 3-0 when he capitalized on an odd-man rush into the Thunderbirds’ zone. Kane Lafranchise curled the puck nearly halfway around the boards from his own left corner before Scott Eansor raced onto it in the neutral zone. The rookie forward proceed to dart across the blue line and through the left circle, where he centered a pass for a hard-charging Bailey. It was Bailey’s first goal with the Sound Tigers.
The Thunderbirds made things interesting with a pair of goals separated by just 1:18 midway through the third period. Former Sound Tiger Anthony Greco made it 3-1 at the 9:54 mark with his fourth goal of the season. Denis Malgin danced his way free from a pair of Sound Tigers in the left circle and slipped a pass to the slot where Greco fired it low on Gibson.
Alexander Grenier cut Springfield’s deficit to one at 11:12 of the final frame when Chase Balisy guided a pass to the slot where Grenier buried a one-timer for his second tally of the season, which gave Springfield life in the final nine minutes. Still down by a one with 24 seconds left and Ben Holmstrom in the box for cross-checking, the visitors elected to pull Sateri for a two-man advantage, but couldn’t even the score.
The Sound Tigers outshot the Thunderbirds 31-26, but went 0-for-3 on the power play. Sateri (0-4-0) made 28 saves in Springfield’s loss.