The Sound Tigers Report: Week 25
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers used a consistent offense, solid defense and sharp goaltending to win all three games last week, vaulting the club back into a playoff position. The Sound Tigers currently sit fourth in the Atlantic Division standings, one point ahead of the fifth-place Hershey Bears, with one game in hand as well. Bridgeport has six contests left in the regular season.
On Wednesday, the Sound Tigers endured a physical, penalty-filled battle at the MassMutual Center in Springfield and emerged with a 3-2 victory over the sixth-place Thunderbirds. Bracken Kearns, Josh Winquist and Kellen Jones each found the back of net in a game that also contained 73 combined penalty minutes and three fights. Between the pipes, Eamon McAdam secured his first of three straight wins with 19 saves.
Bridgeport’s six-game road trip shifted to Pennsylvania on Friday where the club scored once in every period and held the league’s best offense to a single tally in a 3-1 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center. Jake Bischoff stole the show with one goal and one assist in his professional debut, while Winquist and Michael Dal Colle also lit the lamp. In addition, McAdam made 20 saves for his first win at the PPL Center, located just 20 miles from his hometown of Perkasie, Penn. The win was especially big for the Sound Tigers’ offense, which played most of the night with 10 forwards following a first-period injury to Tanner Fritz and game misconduct to Kellen Jones.
The Sound Tigers capped the week on Saturday with one of their most vital wins of the season, moving back into a playoff position following a 4-2 victory over the Hershey Bears at GIANT Center. Darren Nowick scored twice, and Kane Lafranchise and Carter Verhaeghe also found the back of the net, while McAdam turned back 29 shots, helping Bridgeport finish its season series against Hershey at 5-3-0-0. The Sound Tigers also completed their season-long road trip with a respectable 4-1-1-0 record.
Bridgeport will play three of its next four games at Webster Bank Arena, returning home tomorrow morning for an 11.am. puck drop against the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Sound Tigers then partake in their final “3-in-3” this weekend, beginning with a home-and-home series against the Providence Bruins on Friday and Saturday, before wrapping up the weekend at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday. Fans can follow all of the upcoming action via the team’s online broadcast at www.ahllive.com, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes before each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Bridgeport vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (29-30-9-2) – Tuesday, Apr. 4 at 11 a.m.
Bridgeport at Providence Bruins (41-20-5-4) – Friday, Apr. 7 at 7:05 p.m.
Bridgeport vs. Providence Bruins (41-20-5-4) – Saturday, Apr. 8 at 7 p.m.
Bridgeport vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (23-41-4-2) – Sunday, April 9 at 3 p.m.
News and Notes:
Making the Jump: Quinnipiac University product Connor Jones became the second former Sound Tiger to make his NHL debut this season when he helped the New York Islanders to a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. The 26-year-old, who recorded three hits, two shots and a plus-one rating, was recalled by the Islanders on Saturday afternoon, joining Josh Ho-Sang as the two players who have graduated to the NHL for the first time this year. Overall, eight players have split time between the Sound Tigers and Islanders in 2016-17. Those include: Jones, Ho-Sang, Jaroslav Halak, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Bracken Kearns, Scott Mayfield and Stephen Gionta.
Just That Easy: Islanders prospects John Stevens and Jake Bischoff both made their professional debuts on Friday, and each found the score sheet over the weekend. Bischoff, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year with the University of Minnesota, notched two points (one goal, one assist) in his debut in Lehigh Valley, while Stevens, a former Northeastern University captain, logged an assist in Hershey on Saturday. Five players have now made their pro debut with the Sound Tigers this season, including Devon Toews, Travis St. Denis and Josh Ho-Sang.
Mr. Consistent: Third-year defenseman Ryan Pulock has been extremely consistent since mid-February. The Islanders’ 15th overall pick in 2013 racked up two more assists on Saturday in Hershey and has now recorded 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in his last 26 games, improving to second on the team in scoring (42 points). In addition, Pulock leads Bridgeport defensemen in points and is eighth among AHL blue-liners in scoring (13 goals, 29 assists).
Under the Radar: Speaking of consistent, defenseman Kane Lafranchise has quietly had one of the best seasons of his seven-year career. The 28-year-old has already notched AHL career highs in goals (5), assists (16) and points (21), and is tied for the team lead with a plus-18 rating. In addition, Lafranchise is a plus-six over his last six games.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is “10,” down 12 since last Tuesday… Devon Toews leads all AHL rookies with 37 assists this season... Bracken Kearns leads Bridgeport in goals (23) and points (49), and is tied for the team lead in power play goals (9) and plus-minus (+18)… The Sound Tigers are 2-0-0-0 in morning games this season ahead of tomorrow’s 11 a.m. start… Bridgeport has scored first in three straight games and is 30-5-1-0 when striking first this season.
Playoff Picture (Atlantic Division)
1. Wilkes-Bare/Scranton Penguins (47-19-3-1) = 98 points – Clinched
2. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (44-22-4-0) = 92 points – Magic #: 6
3. Providence Bruins (41-20-5-4) = 91 points – Magic #: 7
4. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (42-24-3-1) = 88 points – Magic #: 10
5. Hershey Bears (38-22-8-3) = 87 points – Magic #: 14
6. Springfield Thunderbirds (29-30-9-2) = 69 points – Eliminated
7. Hartford Wolf Pack (23-41-4-2) = 52 points - Eliminated
The New York Islanders (37-29-12) opened a four-game road trip with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabers on Sunday, helped by a trio of former Sound Tigers. Anders Lee scored twice and Josh Ho-Sang added his fourth NHL tally, while Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves in net. Lee now leads the Islanders with a career-high 31 goals and is third on the team in scoring with 48 points. The Islanders return to action tomorrow night with an 8 p.m. ET matchup against the Nashville Predators in Bridgestone Arena. The club is five points behind the Ottawa Senators for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks (32-29-3-5) split a home-and-home series against the Wichita Thunder last weekend and now sit three points out of a playoff spot with just three games left in the regular season. Former Sound Tiger Jesse Graham recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in two games over the weekend following his reassignment to Missouri last Thursday. The Mavericks open a three-game series against the Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday to conclude the season. All three games will take place on the road.
DC Comics Day: Meet your favorite Justice League and DC Comics superheroes at the Sound Tigers’ regular-season home finale on Sunday, Apr. 9 against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Two special ticket packages are available that include access to the game, concession vouchers, a drawstring bag and more! CLICK HERE for tickets and more information. Doors open at 2 p.m. and the puck drops at 3 p.m.
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.