Sound Tigers Fly Into Break with 4-1 Win
Chris Bourque scored twice and added an assist on Saturday to help the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (24-16-4-2), proud affiliate of the New York Islanders, captured their first regulation win since Dec. 28 with a 4-1 victory against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (24-15-3-2) at Webster Bank Arena.
Kieffer Bellows and Kyle Burroughs also found the back of the cage as the Sound Tigers regained second place in the Atlantic Division standings, moving one point ahead of Lehigh Valley. Between the pipes, Jeremy Smith (13-8-2) stopped 28 of 29 shots en route to his team-leading 13th win, while Carter Hart (9-6-2) made 32 saves in his third straight appearance against Bridgeport.
Steve Bernier and Otto Koivula each added two assists as Bridgeport headed into the all-star break on a winning note.
The Sound Tigers came out flying in their third meeting against the Phantoms this season, directing 13 shots on goal from nine different skaters prior to the halfway mark of the first period. But despite the constant offensive zone pressure and plentiful scoring chances, Bridgeport could not solve Hart – who saw his first AHL action since Dec. 15 after spending his previous 12 games with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Bridgeport ultimately outshot Lehigh Valley by a whopping 20-5 margin at the end of a scoreless opening frame.
The Sound Tigers finally broke through and took the first lead of the game just 2:02 into the middle frame courtesy of Bellows. On the team's 22nd shot of the night, the rookie forward converted after he intercepted a stretch pass in the neutral zone, carried the puck across the blue line, and snapped a shot from left circle below Hart's blocker. Bellows' unassisted tally was his 11th of the season.
The Phantoms struck back just over ten minutes later when Justin Bailey tied the game at 12:08. After finding the puck in the neutral zone, Bailey created a partial breakaway and fired a wrist shot past Smith's five-hole for his 11th goal of the season and second is as many games.
The Sound Tigers regained the lead for good at the 13:08 mark on Bourque's eighth of the season. After Sebastian Aho's wrister from the top of the left circle failed to make it through to the net, Koivula found the puck at his feet and made a slick backhanded pass to set up Bourque. In the slot, Bourque caught the pass and quickly wired a shot off the bar and in. With the goal, Bourque snapped a 14-game goalless drought, dating back to Dec. 21 at Charlotte.
The Sound Tigers continued to carry the majority of play throughout the third period, and added an insurance marker in the form of Bourque's empty-net tally at 18:36 to ice the score at 4-1.
Bridgeport went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and 0-for-3 on the power play. The Sound Tigers also outshot the Phantoms 36-29, which was the first time the club has outshot its opponent since Dec. 27 against Hartford.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday in their first game back from the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena. The game will air across the Sound Tigers Radio Network , and may be viewed live via AHLTV. Pre-game coverage is set to begin at 6:45 p.m.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers 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 Hockey and Hops (Mar. 17) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will also be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24). 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.