The Bridgeport Report: Week 8
NHL veteran Steve Bernier scored four times last week, including three goals on the power play, as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (12-6-2-1) earned a trio of points in a post-holiday tripleheader against the Hartford Wolf Pack and Springfield Thunderbirds. New York Islanders prospects Michael Dal Colle and Sebastian Aho also cashed in and helped the Sound Tigers hold onto second place in the Atlantic Division standings with 27 points – fourth in the AHL.
The Sound Tigers began their weekend on Friday and earned a point for the ninth consecutive game, but suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to Hartford on “Teddy Bear Toss” Night at Webster Bank Arena. Bernier and Chris Bourque each scored a power-play goal in the opening frame, while Vinni Lettieri struck twice in regulation and again in the shootout for the Wolf Pack. It was the only tally in a brief, three-round shootout. Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (7-3-2) was remarkable with a season-high 32 saves on 34 shots, including a tremendous glove-save in overtime.
The Sound Tigers collected nearly 1,000 teddy bears and other stuffed animals following Bernier's seventh goal of the season at 11:20 of the first period. Those toys will be donated to the Connecticut Education Foundation's holiday gift-giving project, which benefits local children in need this holiday season.
On Saturday, the Sound Tigers launched a season-high 43 shots in their rematch against Hartford at the XL Center, but only Dal Colle could beat goaltender Dustin Tokarski in a 3-1 loss. The setback was the club's first regulation loss since Nov 2. Jeremy Smith (5-3-1) made 27 saves, including the denial of a penalty shot in the second period, but saw his personal four-game win streak come to an end.
Bridgeport bounced back on Sunday and capped the weekend with a 4-3 victory against Springfield at Webster Bank Arena. It was a special afternoon for Bernier, who scored his first career hat trick in his 14th professional season and now leads the Sound Tigers with 10 goals this year. The veteran of 837 pro games (who was also playing his 200th AHL game on Sunday) completed the three-goal performance early in the second period with a wacky bank-shot that deflected off of the back glass, then off of goalie Samuel Montembeault's nameplate, and in. It was Bridgeport's first hat trick since Travis St. Denis netted three goals on Mar. 15, 2018 against Rochester.
Aho also found the back of the cage with the eventual game-winner and added two assists for a three-point performance. Otto Koivula and Mike Sislo chipped in two assists each, helping the Sound Tigers to their 10th straight home game with at least one point (8-0-1-1).
Bridgeport continues its 18th AHL season with a trio of games this week, including two more matchups against Springfield. The Sound Tigers will meet the Florida Panthers' affiliate this Wednesday and Sunday at MassMutual Center, with a Saturday night tilt against the Providence Bruins sandwiched in between. Saturday's game is slated for 7 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena. Fans can follow all of the action online via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes before each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Wednesday, Nov. 28 at Springfield Thunderbirds (7:05 p.m.): The Sound Tigers return to Massachusetts for the second time this season, where they haven't won in seven straight visits. The last time Bridgeport defeated Springfield at MassMutual Center was Mar. 29, 2017 (3-2). However, the Sound Tigers are on a two-game win streak against the T-Birds following back-to-back wins in the Park City earlier this month.
Saturday, Dec. 1 vs. Providence Bruins (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers host Boston's top affiliate for “ComiCONN Night” this Saturday at Webster Bank Arena. Experience the thrill of meeting some of the most famous superheroes, plus read comic books, play video games and more! A $25 ticket package is available that includes access to the game, a food voucher valid for one (1) combo of a hot dog, chips and soda/water, and a custom Sound Tigers Superhero Cape! Reserve yours now!
Sunday, Dec. 2 at Springfield Thunderbirds (3:05 p.m.): Bridgeport and Springfield clash for the third time in eight days to wrap up the weekend.
News and Notes:
Bernin' It Down: Veteran forward Steve Bernier had played 836 pro games without ever recording a hat trick. That all changed Sunday when Bernier scored three times in the first 26 minutes against Springfield, including his wacky bank-shot in the second period that completed his hat trick. Two of his three tallies came on the power play and Bernier now leads all AHL players with seven power-play goals this season. The 33-year-old has 138 points (74 goals, 64 assists) in 200 AHL games and 77 points (47 goals, 30 assists) in 125 games with the Sound Tigers. He is three goals away from tying David Ullstrom (2010-13) for 10th place on the team's all-time goal-scoring list. Bernier has also played 637 NHL games during his 14-year career.
Aho-ly Moly: Sebastian Aho is quickly climbing the Sound Tigers' scoring charts with another successful weekend in his rear-view mirror. The 22-year-old defenseman had four points last weekend and earned his second three-point performance of the season on Sunday, which included his first goal of the year. His 13 points are quietly tied for fifth on the Sound Tigers overall, second among team defensemen, and tied for 13th among all AHL blue-liners. In addition, Bridgeport is a perfect 3-0-0-0 when Aho registers a multi-point game.
Gibson's Good Run: Christopher Gibson is 4-0-2 in his last six starts and has a 2.37 goals-against-average and .917 save percentage over his last five games. He made a season-high 32 saves against Hartford last Friday and backstopped Sunday's win with a 25-save effort. In addition, Sunday's victory was Gibson's 46th win with Bridgeport in his 99th game with the club. The 2018 AHL All-Star is fourth in both categories (wins and games played) on the Sound Tigers' all-time lists.
History in the Making: Three-time Calder Cup Champion and six-time All-Star Chris Bourque notched one assist on Sunday, tying him with Alex Giroux (2001-12) for 23rd on the AHL's all-time scoring list (704 points). Bourque has played 741 AHL games and is currently three goals away from tying Keith Aucoin (244 goals, 2001-14) for 47th place on the all-time goal-scoring list. Bourque has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) and a team-high 62 shots in 19 games with Bridgeport this season.
Quick Hits: Devon Toews (pictured below) is tied for fourth among AHL defensemen with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) this season… He is also tied for second among all defensemen in power-play points (10)… Josh Ho-Sang is tied for first among all AHL forwards in assists (16)… The Sound Tigers have been involved in 13 one-goal outcomes this season, second-most in the AHL… Bridgeport is 8-2-2-1 when games are decided by a single tally… Jeremy Smith is 16th among AHL goalies with a 2.83 goals-against-average… Bridgeport's 25 first-period goals are tied for third-most in the AHL.
Goals: Steve Bernier (10)
Assists: Josh Ho-Sang (16)
Points: Devon Toews, Josh Ho-Sang (17)
Plus/Minus: Connor Jones, Jeff Kubiak (+5)
Penalty Minutes: Kyle Burroughs (47)
Power-play goals: Steve Bernier (6)
Shots: Chris Bourque (62)
Wins: Christopher Gibson (7)
The New York Islanders (12-9-2) sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division with 26 points in 23 games this season. Last night, Valtteri Filppula scored New York's lone goal in a 4-1 setback to the Washington Capitals at Barclays Center, which followed a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Former Sound Tiger Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist against the ‘Canes and now leads the Islanders with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) this season. Another former Sound Tiger, Brock Nelson, continues to pace the club with nine goals - two ahead of Filppula and captain Anders Lee. The Isles return to action Thursday with a 7 p.m. road matchup against the Boston Bruins.
The Worcester Railers H.C. (6-10-2-0) dropped two games last week including a 3-1 loss to the Brampton Beast on Sunday, in which former Sound Tiger Tyler Mueller scored his first professional goal. Mitch Gillam was also excellent with a 28-save effort, but it wasn't enough in the setback. The Railers and Beast rematch at 11 a.m. this morning in Brampton, Ontario, where Worcester will look to get within three games of .500. Former Sound Tiger Josh Holmstrom is second on the club with five goals this season, while Mueller is second on the team with six assists.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers will boast one of their most extensive and wide-ranging promotional schedules ever for the 2018-19 season. The fan-friendly calendar includes the return of popular themes like Military Appreciation (Jan. 12), Star Wars Night (Jan. 19), Princess Night (Mar. 30) and Hockey and Hops (Mar. 17). Regional hockey fans will be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24), while another new headliner is Holiday Gift Weekend (Dec. 15-16). View the full 2018-19 promotional schedule.
For additional details or to reserve a group outing for any giveaway or theme night, please call the Sound Tigers' front office 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 email@example.com.