The Bridgeport Report: Week 11
Casey Bailey and Tanner Fritz each recorded four points last week as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-11-2-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, endured their fifth three-game series of the season. The Sound Tigers collected three of six possible points in matchups against the Springfield Thunderbirds, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but the club continues to rank fifth in the Atlantic Division standings.
On Friday, Bridgeport went back and forth with Springfield throughout its 60-minute affair at MassMutual Center, but ultimately fell short in a 5-4 loss. Parker Wotherspoon scored his first two professional goals that night, including the Sound Tigers' first shorthanded tally of the season, but the Thunderbirds received goals from five different players and Juho Lammikko registered three points (one goal, two assists) to propel the home team to victory. Fritz also chipped in two assists for the Sound Tigers. It was Bridgeport's second straight setback in Massachusetts and their second in a row to Springfield overall.
Twenty-four hours later, the Sound Tigers bounced back at Webster Bank Arena as Sebastian Aho steered the club to victory just 26 seconds into overtime in a 3-2 defeat of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Scott Eansor and Devon Toews also scored for the Sound Tigers, which helped snap the team's five-game winless streak dating back to Dec. 2. Christopher Gibson (9-6-0) stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced in relief of Kristers Gudlevskis and backstopped the come-from-behind win. In addition, Bridgeport's power play was strong and finished the game 2-for-4, with each of the club's last two goals being recorded on the man advantage. Bridgeport is now 1-1-0-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.
The Sound Tigers went past regulation again on Sunday and pocketed one point, but wrapped up their busy weekend with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Phantoms. Bridgeport outshot Lehigh Valley 39-18 in the contest, including 17-2 in the third period alone, but the Phantoms notched two goals in the middle frame and forward Corban Knight scored the game-winner 42 seconds into the extra session. It was Lehigh Valley's fourth straight win in the season series and goaltender Dustin Tokarski had a lot to do with it, making 37 saves. Bailey and Michael Dal Colle earned the goals for Bridgeport.
The Sound Tigers will use a four-day break to prepare for two more games this weekend as the team looks for its first regulation victory since Nov. 24. Bridgeport will re-visit MassMutual Center for the third time in as many weekends on Friday, gearing up for a 7:05 p.m. rematch against the Thunderbirds, before traveling to the XL Center on Saturday for a 3 p.m. affair against Hartford. Fans can follow all of the upcoming action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHL Live, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Friday, Dec. 22 at Springfield Thunderbirds (7:05 p.m.) – The Sound Tigers are 2-2-0-0 against Springfield this season with victories at Webster Bank Arena on Nov. 4 and Nov. 19. Bridgeport went 7-4-0-1 against the T-Birds in 2016-17 and 4-1-0-1 in those games in Massachusetts.
Saturday, Dec. 23 vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (3 p.m.) – Bridgeport drops by the XL Center on Saturday afternoon for its sixth matchup between the in-state rivals this season. The Sound Tigers are 4-1-0-0 against Hartford this year and 2-0-0-0 in those games on the road, including an overtime victory in their last visit to the state's capital on Nov. 15.
News and notes:
Going Streaking: Josh Ho-Sang extended his AHL point streak to five games (tied for the longest of his career) after recording an assist in each of his two appearances with the Sound Tigers last weekend. The second-year forward has eight points (two goals, six assists) in eight games with Bridgeport this season, including five assists in his last four contests, split up between a recall to the New York Islanders. Ho-Sang was loaned to Bridgeport by the Islanders on Friday. In addition, Casey Bailey is on a season-best four-game point streak (three goals, two assists) and Tanner Fritz is on a three-game streak (four assists).
Fresh Prince: The New York Islanders loaned Shane Prince to Bridgeport on Sunday, Dec. 10 and the sixth-year forward has notched two assists in four games during his conditioning loan. He is eligible to stay with the Sound Tigers through Saturday's game in Hartford before the Islanders will have to make a move. Prince spent each of the last two full seasons in the NHL and has played 114 games with the Islanders and Ottawa Senators. He recorded 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 50 games with the Isles in 2016-17.
Free Hockey: The Sound Tigers are 4-3 when games run past 60 minutes this season, but Sunday's overtime loss to Lehigh Valley snapped a remarkable streak for the team. It was Bridgeport's first setback in overtime at home since Jan. 24, 2015, a span of nearly three years. Bridgeport went 5-0 in overtime at Webster Bank Arena during each of the last two seasons.
Keeping It Close: Each of the Sound Tigers' three games last weekend resulted in a one-goal differential and Bridgeport is now tied for first in the AHL with 15 one-goal outcomes this season. Of course, going beyond regulation guarantees a one-goal decision and six of the team's last 10 games have ended in overtime or a shootout. The Sound Tigers are 7-5-2-1 in one-goal outcomes this season.
Quick hits: Tanner Fritz is tied for fifth in the AHL's scoring race with 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) and also ranks fourth in the League in helpers… Sebastian Aho's eight goals are second among AHL defensemen and his four game-winning tallies are tied for first among League rookies… Devon Toews leads AHL blue-liners with 86 shots… Aho and Toews are tied for fourth among defensemen with 19 points… The Sound Tigers lead the Eastern Conference with 32.93 shots per game and rank second in the AHL overall in shots against (26.59).
Goals: Scott Eansor (12)
Assists: Tanner Fritz (21)
Points: Tanner Fritz (29)
Plus/minus: Kyle Burroughs (+10)
Penalty minutes: Ross Johnston (97)
Power-play goals: Scott Eansor, Casey Bailey (4)
Shots: Casey Bailey (90)
The New York Islanders (18-12-3) are fifth in the Metropolitan Division and currently hold the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference following a 4-3 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings last Saturday in Brooklyn. Former Sound Tiger Anders Lee scored his team-leading 20th goal of the season with a pass from Ryan Pulock in the final four minutes of regulation, while Jordan Eberle notched the game-winner at 1:54 of overtime. In addition, former Sound Tiger Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist and now leads the team with 31 helpers, and is tied for the team lead with 40 points (with John Tavares). The Islanders return to action tonight and continue a five-game homestand with a 7 p.m. matchup against former Sound Tigers center Frans Nielsen and the Detroit Red Wings.
The ECHL's Worcester Railers H.C. (10-9-2-2) collected four points in three games last week, but continues to rank sixth in a tough North Division. Worcester is coming off of its biggest win of the season, a 5-1 victory against the Adirondack Thunder last Saturday, in which former Sound Tiger Chris Langkow scored twice and Yale University product Frank DiChiara notched a career-best three assists. Patrick McNally (two goals, one assist), Mike Cornell (two assists), Kellen Jones (one assist) and Jeff Kubiak (one assist) also contributed, while Eamon McAdam backstopped the win with 26 saves prior to his reassignment to Bridgeport on Sunday. The Railers H.C. return to action tomorrow night when the club hosts the Reading Royals at 7 p.m.
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