Connecticut Post (Sunday)

Salo, Islanders win in overtime in home opener

- By Michael Fornabaio mfornabaio; @fornabaioc­tp

BRIDGEPORT — The Bridgeport Islanders era at Webster Bank Arena began Saturday night with little recognitio­n of what came before.

Once the game started, a little of Bridgeport’s past helped turn the game around, and a little of the Islanders’ future ended the evening.

Defenseman Robin Salo scored 4:10 into overtime as the Islanders came from behind to win their home opener 4-3 over Springfiel­d.

“I felt like I had good speed coming in,” Salo said. “I was trying to challenge the player. Then I cut back, I was just trying to get it to the net. I think (Arnaud) Durandeau had a good screen there, too, so it went in.”

Springfiel­d took a 3-0 lead in the second period, threatenin­g to drop the Islanders — who changed their name from Sound Tigers in May to strengthen the connection with and to promote its parent New York Islanders — to their fifth game without a win to start the season.

But Michael Dal Colle, playing his first AHL game in

Bridgeport since February 2019, got the Islanders on the board with 4:08 left in the second on a power play.

Durandeau (also on a power play) and Chris Terry both finished off tic-tac-toe passing plays in the offensive zone to tie it, Terry’s with 7:04 to play.

“There was a good vibe (going to overtime) because we made a good comeback,” Salo said. “We were down 3-0, and we got those, tied the game, it just felt like we had the flow in the game.

“I felt right away that we’re going to win this one.”

Salo, who turned 23 earlier this month, is playing his first season in North America. The Islanders drafted the Finnish defenseman in the second round in 2017. He impressed in the New York Islanders’ training camp.

And he has fit in well on a veteran-laden power play that is 4-for-16 in Bridgeport’s first five games.

“Well look at the skill we have, I mean, undeniable,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “Terry, (Austin) Czarnik. The back end, Salo, (Mitch Vande Sompel) has kind of resurged himself.

“I think the skill set that we have, Michael Dal Colle helping out while he’s down, when (Richard) Panik’s in. I think just the overall skill set, confidence and the shooter’s mindset. That’s really the biggest thing.”

Bridgeport’s four banners — first overall, East Division and Eastern Conference playoff champions in 2001-02; Northeast Division champions that Bridgeport earned in Thompson’s first season here, 2011-12 — still hung over the harbor end of the arena.

The game presentati­on featured a few promotions for UBS Arena, the New York Islanders’ venue opening next month next to Belmont Park on Long Island. The goal song? “Crowd Chant,” same as the big club’s. A couple of “let’s go Islanders” chants sprang up organicall­y from a crowd announced at 3,460.

Bridgeport’s winning percentage has ranked near the bottom of the AHL the past couple of years, and Saturday’s three-goal deficit might have signaled a spiral after four close games.

“Guys dug in, played together, played hard for each other,” Thompson said. “I thought it was a great comeback and a way to build moving forward.”

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