The Bridgeport Report: Week 21
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (25-22-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, recorded two points in three games last week as the club faced the Providence Bruins and Charlotte Checkers - the two teams its directly chasing in the Atlantic Division standings. Bridgeport is seven points behind Charlotte for the division's final playoff spot with 21 games remaining in the regular season.
Following setbacks on Friday and Saturday, the Sound Tigers bounced back with a 1-0 victory against the Checkers on Sunday afternoon at Webster Bank Arena, led by a dominating performance from Islanders prospect Kristers Gudlevskis (7-10-5). The Latvian goaltender turned aside a season-high 39 shots, including 16 in the third period, to earn his third shutout of the year and Bridgeport's sixth as a team. Offensively, Kellen Jones scored the game's only tally with an unassisted goal in second period.
It was a big response for the Sound Tigers who suffered a 2-1 loss to Charlotte just one day prior, despite Kyle Burroughs' fifth goal of the season less than three minutes into the contest. It put Bridgeport on top first for the fourth straight game, but Julien Gauthier scored twice for the visitors. Between the pipes, Eamon McAdam (0-1-0) made 19 saves in his first AHL start of the season after stopping 15 shots in relief on Friday.
Connor Jones, Casey Bailey and Kane Lafranchise all found the back of the net in Friday's setback to Providence, while Jones (one goal, one assist) and Josh Ho-Sang (two assists) each recorded a multi-point effort in the 5-3 final. It was Bridgeport's first regulation loss in five trips to Rhode Island this season (3-1-0-1).
The Sound Tigers hit the highway this week and open a four-game road trip with matchups against the Rochester Americans (27-15-8-6), Laval Rocket (21-26-6-2), and Belleville Senators (21-32-1-3). Fans can follow all of the upcoming action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHL Live, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Rochester Americans (7:05 p.m.) – The Sound Tigers visit Blue Cross Arena for the second and final time this season with a mid-week matchup against the Rochester Americans. Bridgeport is 0-1-1-0 against Rochester this season, including a 3-2 overtime loss on the road Jan. 5. Anthony Beauvillier scored both goals for the Sound Tigers that night, while Brendan Guhle netted the overtime-winner.
Friday, Mar. 2 at Laval Rocket (7:30 p.m.) – The Sound Tigers make their inaugural trek to Place Bell in Laval, Que. for their second and final meeting against the Laval Rocket. Bridgeport hasn't faced Laval since its home opener on Oct. 21, in which Scott Eansor scored twice and Travis St. Denis added a tally in a 6-3 loss at Webster Bank Arena.
Saturday, Mar. 3 at Belleville Senators (7 p.m.) – Less than 24 hours after Bridgeport's first trip to Place Bell, the club will also visit Belleville's Yardmen Arena for the first time on Saturday. It will mark the second and final matchup between the Sound Tigers and Belleville Senators following Bridgeport's 3-1 victory on Feb. 3. Ben Holmstrom scored twice for the Sound Tigers that evening.
News and notes:
Road Trippin': The Sound Tigers open a four-game road trip on Wednesday (tied for their longest of the season) that runs through Friday, Mar. 9. Bridgeport is 9-11-4-1 away from Webster Bank Arena this season and is looking to turn a corner after dropping each of its last six road games (0-4-1-1), dating back to Jan. 16. Thirteen of the club's final 21 games will take place on the road, including nine of the team's 13 games during the month of March.
The Loneliest Number: Bridgeport's narrow victory over Charlotte on Sunday was the team's fifth 1-0 game this season (3-2) and its fourth since Jan. 21. The Sound Tigers played three 1-0 games last season and only 10 over the last 10 seasons combined. Bridgeport now ranks fifth in the AHL in goals against per game (2.65) and continues to pace the League in shots against per game (26.13). The Sound Tigers are 15-1-0-1 when allowing one or fewer goals this season and 12-9-5-3 in one-goal decisions.
Keeping Eligible: The New York Islanders loaned Tanner Fritz, Sebastian Aho and Christopher Gibson to Bridgeport just before 3 p.m. on Monday in a paper transaction to maintain their AHL eligibility for the remainder of the season. Each player was then recalled by the Islanders shortly after. The most notable name not on the list was forward Ross Johnston, who recorded 11 points (three goals, eight assists) and 113 penalty minutes in 38 games with the Sound Tigers this season. Johnston was recalled by the Islanders on Jan. 19 and has five points (three goals, two assists) in 12 NHL games this season. He is no longer eligible to play with the Sound Tigers in 2017-18.
Quick Hits: Kristers Gudlevskis is two games shy of his 200th professional appearance… Casey Bailey is three games away from his 200th pro contest… Steve Bernier is three games shy of his 800th pro appearance… Bridgeport's power play is 0-for-21 over the last six games, but its penalty kill is 17-for-19 during that span… The Sound Tigers' penalty kill is third in the AHL at 85.8%.
Goals: Scott Eansor (16)
Assists: Tanner Fritz (27)*
Points: Tanner Fritz (37)*
Plus/minus: Kyle Burroughs (+14)
Penalty minutes: Ross Johnston* (113)
Power-play goals: Scott Eansor, Casey Bailey (6)
Shots: Casey Bailey (159)
* = Currently playing with the New York Islanders
The New York Islanders (29-27-7) begin a stretch of three games in four days on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Montreal Canadiens on the road. It also continues a sequence in which six of seven games will take place away from Barclays Center. The Islanders are coming off of a 2-1 setback to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, in which Jordan Eberle scored his 22nd goal of the season, assisted by Mat Barzal and former Sound Tiger Anthony Beauvillier. Barzal now paces the club (and all NHL rookies) with 66 points and 49 helpers in 63 games, while John Tavares and former Sound Tiger Anders Lee are tied for the team lead with 30 goals. The Islanders are two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card position in the NHL's Eastern Conference.
The ECHL's Worcester Railers H.C. (24-22-4-3) won two of their three contests last week and currently rank fifth in the North Division standings with 19 games remaining. The Railers earned a 4-1 win against the Manchester Monarchs at SNUH Arena on Saturday, helped by goals from Kellen Jones and Matt Gaudreau, who were loaned to Worcester that morning and then recalled by Bridgeport on Sunday. Former Sound Tigers Jeff Kubiak and Chris Langkow also beat goaltender Evan Cowley (14 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds this season). Langkow is second on the team with 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) and third in goal scoring. Worcester completes a seven-game road trip on Tuesday in Brampton, Ont. before returning to the DCU Center for a three-game weekend series at home, beginning Friday night.
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.