The Bridgeport Islanders (14-13-6-1) are on a 10-game losing streak, with their last win exactly one month ago on Dec. 11, a 5-2 road win against the Providence Bruins.
“You’re going to have ups and downs. It’s how you handle it, and I think right now we’re going through a tough time,” head coach Brent Thompson told NYI Hockey Now.
“As for what needs to change, it’s about getting back to the basics. Right now, it’s just about getting ourselves refocused and getting back to details and competing at the end of the day, we just need to out-compete [our opponents] for 60 minutes,” Thompson said.
A main contributor to the recent struggles of the Bridgeport Islanders is the constant roster changes lately with injuries throughout the organization.
— Joshua Linsenberg (@JoshLinsenberg) January 7, 2023
It may seem stressful, but Thompson looks at the situation as an opportunity for some players to step up.
“I always look at it as an opportunity for a guy to make an impression,” Thompson said. “Much like the NHL, when they hit injuries, we’ve got to give them our guys, and it’s an opportunity for those guys to make an impact in the NHL.”
“It’s the same same thing here in Bridgeport. When we get guys from the ECHL, it’s their opportunity to make an impact and make an impression.”
NYI Hockey Now also caught up with 2020 fifth-round pick William Dufour, who is in the midst of his first season in the AHL.
Dufour Shares Thoughts
With all the roster changes, rookie William Dufour has been a constant force in the Bridgeport Islanders lineup. The 20-year-old has appeared in 33 games this season, notching 12 goals with 10 assists.
WILLIAM DUFOUR 👏 pic.twitter.com/1i75Dsia6j
— Bridgeport Islanders (@AHLIslanders) October 21, 2022
Despite his strong efforts so far, the young forward shows discipline and a “we” attitude when it comes to the recent struggles with his team.
“I think right now we’re just killing ourselves with penalties or just by being down at the end of the games or even losing a couple of games in shootouts,” Dufour said.
In their last game on Jan. 7 at Total Mortgage Arena against Providence, the Islanders AHL affiliate took five penalties equalling 15 minutes, almost a full period worth.
Bridgeport Islanders captain Seth Hegelson leads the team in penalties with 59 minutes spent in the box this season.
Dufour also shared the message from Thompson during these tough times.
“I think it’s just a question of playing north and south,” Dufour said. “I mean, sometimes we tried to do make some plays at the blue line that can kill us in our zone. Sometimes we turn the puck over, and it enters the back of our zone.”
“So I think we just need to improve that and just get on our forecheck. When we play with our forecheck and our identity, we’re pretty a good team.”
Despite Willam Dufour’s goal of making it to the NHL, he has seen his fair share of teammates get to live out the dream this season. But there’s no jealousy, but rather determination.
“I’m just so happy for them. I mean, it’s not a question of jealousy or anything it’s just a question of like, being happy with my teammates. And I’m just going to keep working out. So it might be my turn someday,” Dufour shared.
When Corey Schneider got called up to the main team, Worcester Railers goalie Ken Appleby was recalled to Bridgeport. The NHL Veteran is now back with Bridgeport following Semyon Varlamov’s return from injured reserve.
But Appleby hasn’t been sent back down to Worcester, making it a 3 man goalie roster which is unusual. Per coach Thompson, Schneider is day to day with a lower-body injury. Until Schneider is fully healthy, we will probably not see Appleby back with Worcester.
On a positive note, according to Thompson, Bridgeport Islanders defenseman Grant Hutton is considered day-to-day and is “hopeful” to return to the lineup Wednesday night or Friday night. The Indiana native appeared only in six games with one goal this season before hitting long-term injury reserve with a lower-body injury at the end of October.
“We’re excited about the spot that he’s in, and he’s worked really hard in his rehab, too,” Thompson said.
Next Up: The Bridgeport Islanders host the Lehigh Valley Phantom at 7 PM ET at Total Mortgage Arena on Wednesday.