Sound Tigers Navigate 3-in-3 This Weekend
TIME / DATE OPPONENT FOLLOW
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (26-17-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, navigate their first 3-in-3 since December this weekend with matchups against the Providence Bruins (24-16-6-1) and Utica Comets (24-19-3-2). The three-game series begins Friday with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop in Rhode Island before the Sound Tigers return home for “Stick It to Cancer” Weekend at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport will rematch Providence this Saturday (7 p.m.) and host Utica on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m.).
LAST TIME OUT
The Sound Tigers will try to sweep their three-game road trip on Friday (which would set a new season high for consecutive road wins) following a 3-2 shootout victory against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Tuesday. Connor Jones and Jeff Kubiak each scored a first-period goal to help Bridgeport bounce back from an early 2-0 deficit, while Chris Bourque netted the only tally in a three-round shootout at the XL Center. Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (12-9-4) made 25 saves in 65 minutes, and three more in the shootout. The Sound Tigers remain second in the Atlantic Division, 12 points behind the Charlotte Checkers and three points ahead of the Bruins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
STICK IT TO CANCER
Some things are much bigger than hockey. This weekend, the Sound Tigers are dropping the gloves against adult and pediatric cancers when they host Providence and Utica. The weekend begins with a pre-game wine tasting party on Saturday that benefits the Danni Kemp Cancer Support Fund. You can also take advantage of a Stick It 2 Cancer t-shirt package that benefits Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, LIVFREE and Ryan's Rebels, and Sound Tigers players have also decorated baskets that will be raffled off during Saturday's game with proceeds benefiting local charities. The Sound Tigers will sport specialty gold and blue jerseys on Sunday to raise awareness for childhood cancers.
TIGERS VS. BRUINS
Friday's game marks the eighth of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bruins this season, and the fourth of six matchups in Rhode Island (first since Dec. 14). Bridgeport is 4-2-1-0 against Providence this season, but the Bruins have points in all seven matchups (3-0-3-1) and have outscored the Sound Tigers 14-7 at home. Each of the last four meetings (and five of the first seven) have gone past regulation, including Bridgeport's 4-3 shootout win at Webster Bank Arena on Jan. 19. Ben Holmstrom scored twice that night as the Sound Tigers bounced back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period.
VIEW FROM PROVIDENCE
The red-hot Bruins have won five straight games and carry an AHL-best 11-game point streak (9-0-1-1) into Friday's contest, including a pair of victories against the first-place Charlotte Checkers last weekend. In its last outing on Saturday, Providence earned a 1-0 OT win in North Carolina when Gemel Smith scored his ninth goal of the season at 1:36 of the extra frame. The Bruins haven't lost since Jan. 19 in Bridgeport and haven't allowed more than three goals in a game during that span. Goaltenders Dan Vladar and Zane McIntyre have been very strong, especially McIntyre who has won nine straight starts and is tied for fourth in the AHL with 17 victories.
TIGERS VS. COMETS
Sunday's matinee matchup will mark the second and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Comets this season, and the only tilt at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport earned a 4-3 overtime against Utica on Jan. 11 at the Adirondack Bank Center, in which Parker Wotherspoon netted the game-winner with less than 36 seconds left. Tanner Fritz (one goal, one assist) and Josh Ho-Sang led the Sound Tigers with two points and Bridgeport also netted two power-play goals against Ivan Kulbakov. The Sound Tigers last defeated Utica at home on Mar. 18, 2017.
VIEW FROM UTICA
The Comets enter the weekend fourth in the North Division, two points behind the third-place Toronto Marlies and four points ahead of fifth-place Cleveland. Last time out, Utica scored three times in the first 3:16 on Saturday and held on for a 4-3 victory against the Springfield Thunderbirds at MassMutual Center. Tanner Kero led the way with one goal and one assist and continues to rank second in scoring with 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 46 games, which is tied for 14th among all AHL players. Kero also has multiple points in four of his last five games. Reid Boucher is just ahead of Kero with 42 points (19 goals, 23 assists), which leads the Comets and is tied for 11th in the AHL.
SUCCESS BEYOND 60
The Sound Tigers have gone past 60 minutes in 16 games this season including Tuesday's 3-2 shootout final, which ranks third-most in the AHL behind Rockford and Milwaukee (17). Ten of those games have resulted in victories – most in the league. Bridgeport has been no stranger to close games this season and the team continues to lead the AHL in one-goal outcomes with 29 (19-4-4-2).
Chris Bourque, who is expected to play his 900th pro game on Friday, is attempting to lead his AHL team in scoring for the fourth time in the last five years, as he paces Bridgeport with 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games this season. He has 10 points in his last six games (three goals, seven assists) and three multi-point performances in his last five outings. The three-time Calder Cup champion and six-time AHL All-Star is the league's all-time active leading scorer with 728 points (23rd all-time) and also inside the top 50 in goals, assists and games played. Bridgeport is 16-8-1-1 when he has at least one point in a game and 7-1-0-1 when Bourque scores at least one goal in a contest.
Finnish power forward Otto Koivula has consistently impressed during his first pro season in North America. The 20-year-old collected a career-high three assists last Saturday against Lehigh Valley and now leads the Sound Tigers with 10 multi-point games this season. He also earned a plus-three rating for the second time in his last four games, improving to plus-17 this year - fifth among all AHL rookies. Koivula is tied for sixth among AHL rookies in points (33) and has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his last six games.
Two-time All-Star Sebastian Aho is fifth among AHL defensemen in assists (26) and 11th in points (29) over 40 games... Steve Bernier scored twice against Lehigh Valley on Saturday and now has 51 goals as a Sound Tiger (2016-19), tying him with Alan Quine for ninth place on the team's all-time list... Kubiak has scored in back-to-back games and played his 100th pro game on Tuesday... Chris Bourque is 3-for-6 in shootouts this season with two winners.
NHL: New York Islanders (31-16-6): Next: Saturday at Colorado (1 p.m. ET)
ECHL: Worcester Railers (20-19-3-3): Next: Friday vs. Greenville (7:05 p.m. ET)
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.