Sound Tigers Battle Past Rocket, 4-2
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (27-22-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, won their third consecutive game on Friday with a 4-2 victory against the Laval Rocket (21-27-6-2) in their inaugural trip to Place Bell.
Kane Lafranchise scored the game-winning goal in the final eight minutes of regulation, while Stephen Gionta, Travis St. Denis and Ben Holmstrom also found the back of the cage. Between the pipes, Kristers Gudlevskis (9-10-5) made 22 saves in his 200th professional appearance to extend his personal win streak to a season-best three games.
With the victory, the Sound Tigers are now just three points behind the fourth-place Charlotte Checkers for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with 19 games left in the regular season. Bridgeport also has one game in hand on Charlotte.
For the first time in five games, Bridgeport allowed the opening tally when Kerby Rychel scored a power-play goal in his Laval debut. With Patrick Cullity in the box for boarding, Rinat Valiev fired a slap shot from the blue line that missed the left post, but the puck kicked off the end wall and bounced to the crease where Rychel nudged it past Gudlevskis. It was Rychel's 11th goal of the season, less than a week after he and Valiev were traded to Montreal's organization from Toronto.
Gionta responded just 75 seconds into the middle frame with his first goal since Nov 25. Michael Dal Colle created the opportunity when he angled the puck down the right half wall to Gionta in the corner, where the veteran forward guided a centering feed towards the net. The puck took a fortunate bounce on its way, redirecting off Laval defenseman Eric Gelinas and past goaltender Michael McNiven.
St. Denis put the Sound Tigers on top at 16:41 of the second period with a power-play goal that snapped Bridgeport's 0-for-31 skid on the man advantage. With Niki Petti in the box serving a double minor for cross-checking and interference, St. Denis skated the puck to the left circle and forced a wrist shot past Steve Bernier's screen and inside the right post. It was St. Denis' second goal in as many games and his 15th of the season, one off the team lead.
Adam Cracknell pulled Laval back even in the final 22 seconds of the middle frame with his 21st tally of the season. Chris Terry waltzed his way down the right wing and snapped a shot from the circle that Gudlevskis shrugged off, but Cracknell capitalized on the rebound at the 19:38 mark.
Lafranchise made it 3-2 at 12:29 of the third period when he netted his second goal in as many Fridays. Holmstrom brushed a return pass to Lafranchise behind the Laval cage and the eighth-year defenseman opened up and jammed home his second tally of the season.
Holmstrom capped the scoring with an empty-net, power-play tally in the final minute of the third period, assisted by Bailey and an unselfish Dal Colle, who passed the puck to Holmstrom from the right circle instead of taking the sharp-angle shot. It was Holmstrom's eighth goal of the season at the 19:05 mark.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 2-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. McNiven (6-10-1) made 33 saves for the Rocket, while Bridgeport outshot Laval 37-24.
The game also included one fight when Kellen Jones and Antoine Waked dropped the gloves at 16:09 of the second period following a heavy upper-body blow from Connor Jones on Stefan Leblanc.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers continue a four-game road trip tomorrow night with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Belleville Senators at Yardmen Arena. Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHL Live, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
Served by Sound Tigers: Meet Sound Tigers goaltender Eamon McAdam and defenseman Mike Cornell at Eli's Tavern in Milford (21 Daniel Street) on Tuesday, Mar. 6. Each player will assist the wait staff from 6-8 p.m. as well as sign autographs and take pictures during that time.
ComiConn Night: Your favorite comic book characters and superheroes will take over Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, Mar. 10 when the Sound Tigers host “ComiConn Night” against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:30 p.m. In addition, a portion of ticket sales and concessions proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish Connecticut to help grant future wishes for kids in the state. Click here for more information or to purchase a special ComiConn Night package.
Pucks ‘N Paws: Bring your dog to Webster Bank Arena on Sunday, Mar. 11 at 3 p.m. for the popular Pucks ‘N Paws Day, presented by VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Centers. The Sound Tigers will face the Springfield Thunderbirds and all fans are encouraged to bring their dogs to the game. In addition, there will be several animal welfare organizations on hand to showcase pets that are available for adoption. Click here for a special ticket offer.
Don't Go It Alone: Whether it's a corporate outing, a fundraiser, or just friends getting together, a group outing with the Sound Tigers will guarantee an unforgettable experience filled with fast-paced action on the ice, great music, promotions and contests at an affordable price. The Sound Tigers have a variety of packages and promotional events to offer. Please call the team's front office at 203-345-2300 ext. 7 for more information on the benefits of bringing your group to a future game!
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.