Gudlevskis Strong in Fifth Straight Win
Kristers Gudlevskis kept his team in it, and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (29-22-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, pulled through in a 3-2 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (38-16-3-4) at PPL Center on Friday.
The Latvian netminder made 38 saves, including 20 in the third period, to backstop Bridgeport to its first five-game win streak of the season, and its first victory against Lehigh Valley in 2017-18 (1-3-2-0). On the offensive side, Travis St. Denis, Steve Bernier and Parker Wotherspoon all found the back of the net in the team's first of three straight games this weekend.
Despite the win, the fifth-place Sound Tigers remain five points outside of a playoff spot with 17 games left in the regular season. The fourth-place Charlotte Checkers defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack, 4-3, in North Carolina.
Following a scoreless opening frame, St. Denis put Bridgeport on top just 10 seconds into the second period with his 16th goal of the season – tied for the team lead. The second-year forward received a pass from Kyle Burroughs in the neutral zone and skated directly to the left circle where he attempted to force a back-door feed to Bernier, but his pass caught the skate of goaltender Dustin Tokarski and crossed the goal line to make it 1-0.
The Phantoms answered just 61 seconds later when Tyrell Goulbourne scored for the second time in as many games against Bridgeport. While operating in the Sound Tigers' zone, the AHL's leading scorer, Phil Varone, curled and sent a forehand shot at Gudlevskis, who made the initial save but left the rebound for Goulbourne. It was Goulbourne's eighth tally of the season at the 1:01 mark.
Bernier netted the game's only power-play goal at 11:10 of the second period to put Bridgeport on top 2-1. With Varone in the box for high-sticking, Andre Benoit settled Casey Bailey's pass at the left point and sailed a long wrist shot towards the net that Bernier tipped for his 14th of the season. It was also his fourth goal on the man advantage.
Exactly two minutes later, Wotherspoon recorded the eventual game-winner with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that floated over Tokarski's shoulder and into the top right corner. It was Wotherspoon's sixth goal of the season and third in the last two games, which came at the 13:10 mark.
The Phantoms made things interesting when Greg Carey scored his team-best 24th goal of the season at 4:38 of the third period to make it 3-2. Varone set it up with his second of the game following a sharp-angle shot from the right wing that Gudlevskis denied, but couldn't cover, allowing Carey to capitalize on the rebound.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport has scored at least once on the man advantage in each of the last three games.
Lehigh Valley led the shot count 40-33, while Tokarski (12-6-4) made 30 saves in the loss. Gudlevskis (10-10-5) improved to 4-0-0 over his last four starts, allowing five goals total during that span.
ComiConn Night: Your favorite comic book characters and superheroes will take over Webster Bank Arena tomorrow night when the Sound Tigers host “ComiConn Night” against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:30 p.m. In addition, a portion of ticket sales and concessions proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish Connecticut to help grant future wishes for kids in the state. Click here for more information.
Pucks ‘N Paws: Bring your dog to Webster Bank Arena this Sunday at 3 p.m. for the popular Pucks ‘N Paws Day, presented by VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Centers (Shoreline and VREC). The Sound Tigers will face the Springfield Thunderbirds and all fans are encouraged to bring their dogs to the game. In addition, there will be several animal welfare organizations on hand to showcase pets that are available for adoption.
Don't Go It Alone: Whether it's a corporate outing, a fundraiser, or just friends getting together, a group outing with the Sound Tigers will guarantee an unforgettable experience filled with fast-paced action on the ice, great music, promotions and contests at an affordable price. The Sound Tigers have a variety of packages and promotional events to offer. Please call the team's front office at 203-345-2300 ext. 7 for more information on the benefits of bringing your group to a future game!
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.