BRIDGEPORT, CT – Josh Ho-Sang set up Travis St. Denis for the overtime winner on Wednesday as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (17-12-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, topped the Springfield Thunderbirds (11-12-4-2), 5-4, at Webster Bank Arena.
Ho-Sang (one goal, one assist) and Tanner Fritz (two assists) each recorded a multi-point effort as the Sound Tigers remained perfect beyond regulation (8-0) and snapped a five-game slide dating back to Dec. 11th.
Jon Landry, Ryan Pulock and Bracken Kearns also found the back of the net in the win.
Bridgeport took the early lead when Landry secured his second goal of the season at 9:26 of the opening period. After a scramble in front loosened the puck for Connor Jones, he forced a pass to the top of the left circle where Landry navigated a shot over the glove-side shoulder of netminder Mike McKenna.
Less than seven minutes later, Pulock doubled Bridgeport’s lead when he capitalized for the third time in as many games. Eric Boulton, in his Sound Tigers debut, created the attack in the neutral zone by connecting a pass with Pulock. The third-year defenseman skated down the left wing, cut through the circle and slipped a low shot under McKenna’s leg pads from the slot. With the assist, it was Boulton’s first AHL point since 2000 in his first game (AHL) since Nov. 27, 2011.
In the second frame, the Thunderbirds got one back when Ryan Horvat delivered on a rebound at the 7:17 mark. Joe Diamond took the initial shot, but goaltender Stephon Williams couldn’t corral the second chance, and Horvat finished to make it 2-1.
Ho-Sang regained Bridgeport’s two-goal advantage at 18:16 of the second period with a power-play tally in his return to the lineup. Following a cross-checking major and game misconduct to Horvat for a vicious hit on Steve Bernier, Dal Colle threaded a diagonal feed to Ho-Sang at the right post where nudged it home for his third goal of the season.
Springfield controlled the majority of the third period, scoring three times to send the game to overtime. Chase Balisy made it 3-2 at the 2:40 mark when he completed a wraparound, stuffing the puck into the left side of the net. Just 62 seconds later, Balisy found Zac Lynch with a backhand pass to the high slot where Lynch lifted a drive over Williams’ left shoulder for his first professional goal.
Just as Springfield was starting to gain momentum, St. Denis found Kearns deep in the Thunderbirds’ zone, where the veteran eventually made it 4-3 at 7:09 of the third. Kearns redirected a shot on target that McKenna steered below the goal line, but Kearns stuck with it and banked another chance off the goaltender and in for his ninth tally of the season.
The Thunderbirds tied the game for a second time at 16:52 of the third when Williams lost the puck as he came out of the crease, creating a scoring opportunity for Tim Bozon. He executed perfectly and brushed a shot around Williams’ right leg for his fifth tally of the season.
In overtime, the Sound Tigers capped their 5-4 win when Ho-Sang corralled a bouncing puck below the right circle, spun right and fed it to St. Denis, who flipped a shot top shelf for his fifth goal of the month.
The physical battle between the two teams also resulted in two fights and 47 combined penalty minutes. Ben Holmstrom and Mackenzie Weeger dropped the gloves at 12:17 of the middle frame before Michael Dal Colle engaged in his first professional tilt against Jared McCann at 15:25 of the third.
In addition, the Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. Williams (4-10-0) made 24 saves in the win, while McKenna (4-7-4) stopped 29 shots.
Bridgeport outshot Springfield 34-28.