Sound Tigers Battle Bruins, Checkers This Weekend
DATE TIME OPPONENT FOLLOW
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (24-20-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, go up against their sixth “3-in-3” of the season this weekend with a trio of games against the two teams they're directly chasing in the standings - the Providence Bruins (30-17-3-2) and Charlotte Checkers (30-21-0-3). The three-game series kicks off at 7:05 p.m. Friday in Providence, R.I. before the Sound Tigers return home to face Charlotte in a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is looking to build upon a 4-0 victory against the Hartford Wolf Pack in their last outing on Sunday.
RETURN OF BROCK NELSON
Former Sound Tigers star and current New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson returns to Webster Bank Arena this Sunday when the Sound Tigers battle Charlotte at 3 p.m. Nelson will meet fans and sign autographs, beginning at 2:30 p.m., and the first 2,500 fans will receive his bobblehead when doors open at 2 p.m., courtesy of Nutmeg Bowl and Our Backyard Playplace of Fairfield. In addition, the first 2,000 fans will also receive one (1) free game of bowling at Nutmeg Bowl in Fairfield. Great seats are on sale now!
LAST TIME OUT
The Sound Tigers snapped a five-game slide (0-3-1-1) with a 4-0 win against Hartford last Sunday, led by Christopher Gibson. The fifth-year netminder made 22 saves en route to his second straight shutout, including a 30-save effort against Providence last Friday, while Travis St. Denis scored twice to lead the team's offense. In addition, Parker Wotherspoon and Steve Bernier also found the back of the cage as Bridgeport defended fifth place in the Atlantic Division. The Sound Tigers have not allowed a goal in 142:17 (a season-long streak dating back to 2:43 of the third period on Feb. 13), but the club will play without Gibson this weekend, who was emergency recalled by the Islanders on Monday.
TIGERS VS. BRUINS
Friday's game marks the ninth of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bruins this season, and the fifth of six matchups in Rhode Island. Bridgeport has collected at least one point in all four contests at the Dunkin' Donuts Center this season (3-0-0-1) and has outscored Providence 10-3 in that building. Casey Bailey and Josh Ho-Sang have each recorded five points against Providence in the head-to-head series, however, the Bruins recorded a 1-0 shootout victory last Friday, led by Zane McIntyre's 29-save shutout - his league-leading fifth shutout of the year.
VIEW FROM PROVIDENCE
Jay Leach's club saw its five-game point streak (4-0-0-1) come to an end on Sunday in a 3-2 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds at home. Josh Hennessy and Ryan Fitzgerald each found the back of the net, but Ryan Horvat scored the eventual game-winner against Zane McIntyre (17 saves) at 5:42 of the third period. Austin Czarnik also had two assists for the third-place Bruins and continues to lead the team with 45 points and 32 helpers in 41 games. In addition, Czarnik is tied for seventh in the AHL's scoring race and has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last 10 AHL contests. The Bruins open their third of four straight “3-in-3” series on Friday.
TIGERS VS. CHECKERS
Saturday's 7 p.m. game marks the sixth of eight meetings between the Sound Tigers and Checkers this season, and the second of four matchups at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 2-3-0-0 against Charlotte this year, including a 4-3 setback at Bojangles Coliseum in their last meeting on Jan. 17 – a game that was closed to the public due to inclement weather conditions in North Carolina. On the flip side, the Sound Tigers defeated Charlotte at home, 5-2, on Nov. 18, led by a two-goal performance from Travis St. Denis and 14 saves from Christopher Gibson. Each of the last three meetings will take place at Webster Bank Arena, including the season finale on Apr. 15.
VIEW FROM CHARLOTTE
The fourth-place Checkers saw their five-game win streak come to an end last Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch at Bojangles Coliseum. Brenden Kichton scored just 1:06 into the second period to put Charlotte on top, but the Crunch rallied with three goals in the third period against Colton Booth. Despite the loss, the Checkers have been one of the stronger teams in the Atlantic Division lately and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic has blanked opponents in three of his last four games. Nedeljkovic leads the AHL with 23 wins, is tied for the League lead with five shutouts, and ranks 13th with a 2.44 goals-against-average. On the offensive side, All-Star forward Valentin Zykov leads the AHL with 25 goals and Andrew Miller is second in the League's scoring race with 51 points (15 goals, 36 assists). The Checkers face the Springfield Thunderbirds on Friday before traveling to the Park City on Saturday.
As the Sound Tigers enter the final two months of the regular season, the club finds itself on the outside looking in. Bridgeport currently sits fifth in the Atlantic Division standings, seven points behind the cut-off spot, but with two games in hand on the fourth-place Charlotte Checkers. The Sound Tigers are also neck-and-neck with the Hartford Wolf Pack (one point back, but with three games in hand) as the team enters its final 24-game stretch. The top four teams in each of the AHL's four divisions will qualify for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Second-year forward Travis St. Denis played his 100th professional game on Sunday and notched his second two-goal performance of the season. The Quinnipiac University product has 46 points (23 goals, 23 assists) in 100 pro outings and currently leads all active scorers on the Sound Tigers with 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in 50 games this season. He is also tied for second on the club in goals and enters tonight's action with six points (three goals, three assists) in his last seven games.
Two-time Calder Cup champion and former NHL defenseman Andre Benoit joined the Sound Tigers on Feb. 13 (loaned by the Columbus Blue Jackets) and made his Bridgeport debut last Friday in Providence, recording five shots on goal… The Sound Tigers have outshot their opponents 265-178 during February (eight games), but are 2-4-1-1 over that stretch... Bridgeport's penalty kill is third on the road (88.2%).
NHL: New York Islanders (29-26-7): Next at New Jersey Devils - Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (22-22-4-3): Next at Reading Royals - Friday, 7 p.m. ET
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.