Sound Tigers Aim For Six Points in Huge Weekend
DATE TIME OPPONENT FOLLOW
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (37-21-2-1) partake in their second straight “3-in-3” this weekend, but it’s undoubtedly their biggest one yet as the playoff push continues to heat up. Two of the three opponents this weekend are teams the Sound Tigers are tied with (by points) for third place in the Atlantic Division standings. Bridgeport will battle the Providence Bruins (34-18-5-4) on the road Friday and the Hershey Bears (33-18-8-3) at home Sunday, split by a Saturday night showdown against the Utica Comets (28-24-7-2). Last time out, Bridgeport earned a 5-2 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday when five different skaters found the back of the net, including Bracken Kearns with his 500th professional point. It was Bridgeport’s fifth straight Sunday afternoon win at Webster Bank Arena.
Big-time promotions are on tap this weekend including Pucks and Paws on Saturday and Casey Cizikas Bobblehead Night on Sunday. All dogs are welcome at Saturday’s game, presented by VCA Animal Hospitals, and you can help support local pet charities by purchasing your tickets here. On Sunday, New York Islanders forward and former Sound Tiger Casey Cizikas will be in attendance. The first 2,000 fans will receive his bobblehead at the door courtesy of IBEW and Casey will meet fans and sign autographs before the game through the first intermission. Doors open at 2 p.m. on Sunday and good seats are still available by clicking here.
TIGERS VS. BRUINS
Tonight’s game marks the 10th of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bruins this season, and the fifth of six matchups at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Bridgeport leads the series 6-3-0-0, including a 5-3 victory at Webster Bank Arena on Mar. 7. Carter Verhaeghe (two goals) and Josh Winquist (one goal, two assists) led the charge that night, while Tanner Fritz added a goal and an assist. Jaroslav Halak also made 41 saves. Overall, Fritz leads Bridgeport with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in nine games against Providence. The Sound Tigers are 2-2-0-0 in Rhode Island this season.
VIEW FROM PROVIDENCE
Kevin Dean’s club has lost three straight games in regulation and is just 5-5-0-0 over its last 10. Last time out, defenseman Alex Grant scored 1:46 into the first period and the Bruins held Hershey to just 15 shots, but the Bears walked away with a 4-2 win at GIANT Center on Sunday. Grant is now tied for eighth among AHL blue-liners with 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists), while sixth-year forward Jordan Szwarz leads the Bruins’ active scoring list with 17 goals, 31 assists and 48 points. Providence begins its first of four straight “3-in-3’s” tonight.
TIGERS VS. COMETS
Saturday’s game will mark the fourth and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Comets this season, and the second matchup at Webster Bank Arena. Utica has won all three games this season (by two goals or less). Last Friday, Kellen Jones scored his fourth goal of the year, but it wasn’t enough in a 2-1 setback to Utica in their last head-to-head tilt. Comets’ forwards Curtis Valk and Michael Carcone both scored, while netminder Thatcher Demko made 23 saves.
VIEW FROM UTICA
Travis Green’s club has won seven of its last eight games and is a conference-best 8-1-1 over its last 10 games. In their last outing on Sunday, Darren Archibald and Borna Rendulic each recorded three points (one goal, two assists) in a 5-0 shutout of the Binghamton Senators at the AUD. The Comets currently sit fourth in the North Division standings, just a fraction of a percentage point ahead of the St. John’s IceCaps. Curtis Valk leads the team’s active scoring list with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists), which is also tied for sixth among AHL rookies. In addition, rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko is on a seven-game winning streak with a 1.00 goals-against-average and .965 save percentage during that span. The Comets host Syracuse at home on Friday before traveling to Bridgeport on Saturday.
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Sunday’s matinee contest will mark the seventh of eight meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bears this season, and the fourth and final matchup at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport leads the series 4-2-0-0 and has won three straight games, all on Sunday afternoons at Webster Bank Arena. In their last tilt, Bracken Kearns and Josh Winquist each scored and Jaroslav Halak made 19 saves in a 2-1 win on Feb. 26.
VIEW FROM HERSHEY
The Bears have won two straight games and seven of their last 10, moving into a three-way tie for third place in the Atlantic Division standings (although they have played one more game than Bridgeport and Providence). Hershey secured a 4-2 win over Providence last Sunday, led by Stanislav Galiev’s two goals and a 28-save performance from goaltender Phoenix Copley, who was traded over from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 28 along with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (in Washington). The Bears host Hartford for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday before traveling to Bridgeport on Sunday.
APPLES TO APPLES
New York Islanders prospect Devon Toews logged four more assists last week, including two on Sunday, and now leads the Sound Tigers with 34 helpers this season. In fact, Toews enters Week 22 on a five-game assist streak dating back to Mar. 5 and also has helpers in seven of his last eight games. The Quinnipiac University product leads all league rookies in assists and is tied for fourth among AHL defenseman (38 points). Toews has 10 points (all assists) in his last eight games.
SMALLEST OF MARGINS
Seven of the Sound Tigers last 10 games have been decided by just one goal. In fact, Bridgeport leads the league with 36 games being decided by a single tally (Ontario has 35). The club is 23-10-2-1 in one-goal outcomes overall this season and 15-3-0-0 in one-goal games at home.
The Sound Tigers power play came to life on Sunday, scoring a season-high three goals on six opportunities. Overall, Bridgeport’s power play has capitalized at least once in three of its last four games with six goals total during that span (35.3-percent). Steve Bernier leads the club with nine power-play tallies this season, while Bracken Kearns (eight) and Tanner Fritz (six) are close behind. Devon Toews (17) and Ryan Pulock (16) lead the Sound Tigers in power-play points.
Veteran center Bracken Kearns crossed another milestone on Sunday when he notched his 500th professional point with the game-winning goal against Hartford. The 35-year-old has 211 goals and 289 assists in his 12-year career, including six goals and six assists in 35 NHL games. This season, Kearns leads the Sound Tigers with 21 goals, 43 points and a plus-17 rating. He also has a team-best six game-winning tallies (tied for the league lead). Kearns played his 600th AHL game on Nov. 4, 2016 against Hartford as well as his 800th pro game on Feb. 3, 2017 against Springfield.
The Sound Tigers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is “29”… Thirteen of the Sound Tigers last 15 games will take place against Atlantic Division opponents… Jaroslav Halak is fourth among AHL goaltenders with a .926 save percentage and tied for fourth with a 2.17 goals-against-average… Halak played his 500th professional game last Friday in Utica… Tanner Fritz is tied for 13th among league rookies with 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists).
NHL: New York Islanders (33-26-11) – Next: Saturday vs. Columbus, 1 p.m. ET
ECHL: Missouri Mavericks (28-24-3-5) – Next: Tonight at Quad City, 8:05 p.m. ET
For additional details or to reserve seats for any of the 2016-17 giveaway and theme nights, please call the Sound Tigers’ front office at (203) 345-2300.
Executive suites and premium seat packages are also available by calling the team’s front office at (203) 345-4841. If you are interested in group outings with your friends, family, co-workers, or clients an unforgettable experience at a discounted rate, call the group sales hotline at (203) 345-2300 Ext. 7.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep up with the latest Sound Tigers news on Facebook and on Twitter. For more team information, log on to soundtigers.com.