Sound Tigers Battle Past Checkers, 5-3
Scott Eansor scored twice and Sebastian Aho notched the game-winner with his first North American goal as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-1-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, topped the Charlotte Checkers (2-1-0-0) in a 5-3 decision at Bojangles Coliseum on Friday.
Tanner Fritz (one goal, one assist) and Steve Bernier also found the back of the net, while Kristers Gudlevskis made 18 saves in his Sound Tigers debut between the pipes. It was Bridgeport's first ever win against the Checkers in their fifth all-time meeting.
Eansor now has three goals in two professional games including each of the team's first three this season. He scored a career-high 18 goals in 40 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds (Western Hockey League) last season.
The rookie forward broke the ice just 6:06 into the first period and put the Sound Tigers on top with a burst of speed that turned into a breakaway. During 4-on-4 play, Eansor chased down a loose puck in the neutral zone and gained the edge on Charlotte's defense as he wheeled past the blue line. Eansor proceeded to cut through the low slot and turn from his backhand to his forehand before flipping the puck over goaltender Jeremy Smith for his second pro goal in just his second game.
Wallmark answered to tie the contest just over four minutes later with his second goal of the season. Andrew Miller fed the puck to Wallmark in the low slot where the latter forced home a backhand shot underneath Gudlevskis at 10:15.
Eansor continued his heroics to put the Sound Tigers back in front midway through the second period. After the Checkers failed to clear the zone, Travis St. Denis advanced the puck to Casey Bailey down the right wing and the fourth-year forward skated towards the net before threading a pass to Eansor for a quick back-post redirection.
Aleksi Saarela made it 2-2 at 17:13 of the middle frame with a pin-point shot from the right circle for his second goal of the season. Phil Di Giuseppe found Saarela out of the right corner and the fourth-year center followed by rifling a wrist shot past Gudlevskis' blocker to draw the game back even.
The Sound Tigers again pulled ahead in the final minute of the second period when Fritz displayed his dynamic hands and footwork for his first tally of the season. The Ohio State product took the puck 1-on-4 across the Checkers' blue line, split two skaters and then deked another before firing a forehand shot past Smith's glove. His unassisted goal came at the 19:10 mark.
The pendulum continued to swing early in the third period as Miller made it 3-3 with the only power-play goal of the evening. With Mitch Vande Sompel in the box for tripping, Trevor Carrick pushed the puck to Wallmark on the right wing, before Wallmark skated in and crafted up a brilliant look for Miller in the slot. Wallmark's pass was right on the mark, which allowed Miller to one-time a shot past Gudlevskis at 2:35.
Not to be denied, Bridgeport kept its foot on the pedal and used back-to-back goals from Aho and Bernier to close out the win. Aho's goal at 10:48 of the third period proved to be the difference, and maybe the highlight of the night as the 2017 draft pick curled at the bottom of the right circle and sniped a forehand shot over Smith's shoulder and into the top left corner of the net. Meanwhile, Bernier put the game on ice with an empty-net tally at 19:24, assisted by Fritz.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-5 on the power play, but 6-for-7 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport also outshot Charlotte 32-21, while Smith (1-1-0) made 27 saves in the Checkers' setback.
The contest included one fight when Ross Johnston dropped the gloves for the second time this season at 4:21 of the second period, battling with Checkers' defenseman Philip Samuelsson.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers and Checkers square off in a 6 p.m. rematch tomorrow night at Bojangles Coliseum. Fans can follow all of the live action on the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHL Live, beginning with the pre-game show at 5:45 p.m.
Hottest Tickets in Town: The Sound Tigers will boast one of their most extensive and exciting promotional lineups in team history this season. This year's calendar will feature the return of Star Wars Night (Dec. 2), meet-and-greets with the Justice League (Nov. 11) and Marvel (Jan. 27) superheroes, and all-new promotions like a camouflage baseball cap (Jan. 13) and a kid's lunch box giveaway (Feb. 11). The promotional lineup kicks off with Opening Night on Oct. 21, featuring a Sound Tigers backpack giveaway to the first 3,000 kids courtesy of All Electric Construction and Communication. Click here to tickets.
Guarantee Your Seats: Season tickets and flex plans are on sale now for the 2017-18 campaign, offering the greatest savings and ultimate flexibility of all ticket packages. Pick between a full-season, 20-game, 15-game or 10-game plan and you'll also be entitled to exclusive benefits, including the ticket holder exchange policy, which means any unused tickets can be traded for future games. Seating options are broken down into six different pricing sections, giving you the flexibility to fit Sound Tigers' hockey into any kind of budget. Please contact Brad Dworin at 203-345-4813 or via firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to guarantee your seats.
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 that occurs during home games 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. For more team information, log on to soundtigers.com.