Sound Tigers Complete Season This Weekend
DATE TIME OPPONENT FOLLOW
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (36-29-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, tackle their final three games of the season this weekend, beginning Friday with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (45-19-5-5) at PPL Center. The Sound Tigers will also face the Hershey Bears (29-36-4-5) on the road Saturday before returning to Webster Bank Arena for their season finale against the Charlotte Checkers (44-26-1-3) Sunday. Bridgeport is looking to bounce back after a pair of setbacks last weekend, including a 5-2 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in its last outing on Sunday. Bridgeport guided more than 40 shots on target for the seventh time this season (43), but only Steve Bernier and John Stevens beat goaltender Anthony Peters at home.
FIRST RESPONDERS NIGHT
Sunday's season finale at Webster Bank Arena is also First Responders Night, with tributes to local police, fire and rescue squads throughout the 5 p.m. game. Help honor and support these organizations through a discounted ticket offer, which gives back a portion of proceeds to these and other first responders groups. This ticket offer must be purchased through the link prior to 5 p.m. on Friday.
TIGERS VS. PHANTOMS
Friday's game marks the eighth and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Phantoms this year, and the fourth of four matchups in Pennsylvania. Bridgeport is 1-4-2-0 against Lehigh Valley thus far, but the Sound Tigers earned a 3-2 win in their last trip to PPL Center on Mar. 9, led by Parker Wotherspoon's two-point effort (one goal, one assist) and game-winning tally at 13:10 of the second period. Wotherspoon also logged an assist the following night in Bridgeport's 4-1 setback to Lehigh Valley (their last meeting). Phantoms forward Phil Varone leads all scorers in the series with nine points (two goals, seven assists).
VIEW FROM ALLENTOWN
Scott Gordon's club has already locked up first place in the Atlantic Division for the first time since the Philadelphia Phantoms did it in 2003-04. The Phantoms have been one of the AHL's top teams all season and the club enters the weekend with points in each of its last two games, including a 6-3 win against the Providence Bruins on Sunday. Former Sound Tigers captain, Colin McDonald, notched three points (one goal, two assists) and Phil Varone added one goal and one assist that night, while John Muse made 32 saves. Varone is tied for first in the AHL's scoring race with 70 points (23 goals, 47 assists) and is also tied for third in helpers. Meanwhile, Greg Carey is tied for third in the AHL with 31 goals.
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Saturday's 7 p.m. game marks the sixth and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Bears this season, and the third of three matchups at Giant Center. Bridgeport is 4-1-0-0 against Hershey thus far, including a 6-4 win on Mar. 28, in which John Stevens recorded a career-high two goals and three points at Webster Bank Arena. However, Hershey took the last matchup in Chocolate Town on Mar. 16 when Anthony Peluso deposited the game-winner in the final 4:42. Peluso has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last two games against Bridgeport.
VIEW FROM HERSHEY
The Bears enter their final weekend of the season on a three-game slide (0-3-0-0) and just 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games. Hershey has been eliminated from post-season contention for just the 13th time in its 80-year history and Saturday's game will mark the Bears' penultimate game of the season. Last time out, Troy Mann's club dropped a 3-1 decision to the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday, in which Chris Bourque scored his third goal in two games and his team-leading 53rd point of the year (17 goals, 36 assists). Hershey wraps up its season on Sunday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
TIGERS VS. CHECKERS
Sunday's finale features the eighth and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Checkers this season, and the fourth of four matchups at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 3-4-0-0 in the series with a victory in their last tilt on Feb. 25 in the Park City. Kellen Jones scored the only goal at 6:21 of the second period that day, while Kristers Gudlevskis made a season-high 39 saves for one of his three shutouts this season. Bridgeport is 2-1-0-0 against Charlotte at home in 2017-18.
VIEW FROM CHARLOTTE
The Checkers have clinched a berth in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs and enter the weekend on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1-0) – longest in the AHL. Charlotte is also on a five-game win streak dating back to Mar. 31, including back-to-back victories against the Hershey Bears last weekend at home. Janne Kuokkanen has four goals in his last two games and is up to 15th in the AHL's rookie scoring race with 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 58 games. Meanwhile, the Checkers' high-powered offense (which is tied for the league lead with 3.42 goals/game) is led by Valentin Zykov, who is tied for the AHL's top spot in goal-scoring with 32 tallies. The Checkers are in Providence on Friday before traveling to Bridgeport for Sunday's finale.
BERNIER'S BOLD SEASON
Steve Bernier has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his last eight games and has moved up to fourth on the team in scoring. Even better, Bernier's 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists) in 60 games equal his second-best season in either the NHL or AHL, behind his rookie campaign with the Cleveland Barons in 2005-06 (20 goals, 23 assists). The veteran of 637 NHL games and 178 AHL contests is one goal shy of setting a new career high.
Third-year captain Ben Holmstrom has played 225 consecutive games with Bridgeport dating back to the start of 2015-16 – the longest active streak in the AHL. In fact, Holmstrom is expected to tie Sean Bentivoglio (2007-10) for eighth place on the Sound Tigers' all-time games played list tonight (226). The 31-year-old recently passed Scott Mayfield for ninth place with his 223rd appearance last Friday. Holmstrom has 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) and 85 penalty minutes in 73 games this year, and is quietly having his best goal-scoring season since 2013-14.
Chris Gibson will pass Dieter Kochan (2003-05) for fourth place on Bridgeport's all-time games played list among goalies with his next appearance (85)… The Sound Tigers are 23-24-0-2 when outshooting opponents, but 13-4-0-1 when outshot… Islanders' seventh-round draft pick in 2016 (#200 overall) David Quenneville is expected to make his pro debut this weekend, becoming the 39th player to dress for Bridgeport in 2017-18… Quenneville led all Western Hockey League (WHL) defensemen in goals (26) and points (80) with the Medicine Hat Tigers this season... Tanner Fritz had three shots in his return to the Sound Tigers' lineup on Sunday - his first AHL action since Jan. 27.
NHL: New York Islanders (35-37-10) - Missed playoffs
ECHL: Worcester Railers (37-27-4-4) - Game 1 of Rd. 1 - Friday at Adirondack Thunder, 7 p.m.
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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.