The Sound Tigers Report: Week 22
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (37-21-2-1) gathered four points in four games last week, but won both of their contests against Atlantic Division opponents at Webster Bank Arena. Overall, the Sound Tigers are a part of a three-way tie (by points) for third place in the division standings with the Providence Bruins and Hershey Bears. All three teams have 77 points, although Hershey has played one more game. Second-place Lehigh Valley has 81 points.
The Sound Tigers opened the week last Tuesday with a big 5-3 victory over Providence. Carter Verhaeghe scored twice and Josh Winquist added three points (one goal, two assists) to lead the way offensively, while many others chipped in as well. Tanner Fritz (one goal, one assist), Ryan Pulock (two assists) and Devon Toews (two assists) also recorded multiple points, while Loic Leduc scored his first AHL goal early in the third period. Jaroslav Halak made 41 saves between the pipes. Bridgeport is now 6-3-0-0 against the Bruins this season.
On Friday, the Sound Tigers headed north for their second matchup in five days against the Utica Comets, but things didn’t go as well in a 2-1 setback at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Kellen Jones scored the only goal, his fourth of the season, but Comets’ netminder Thatcher Demko stopped the other 23 shots for his sixth straight victory. Meanwhile, Halak made 26 saves for Bridgeport in his 500th professional appearance. Three of his four regulation losses have come against Utica. The Sound Tigers have now played in a league-high 36 one-goal games this season (23-10-2-1).
Twenty-four hours later, Bracken Kearns got Bridgeport on the board in the first period, but it wasn’t enough as the Sound Tigers suffered a 4-1 loss to the Albany Devils at Webster Bank Arena. Pulock and Toews each contributed with an assist, while Halak and Eamon McAdam combined to make 17 saves on 21 shots in net.
On Sunday, the Sound Tigers saw their offense ignite for five goals on 36 shots, despite losing an hour of sleep due to daylight savings time, en route to a 5-2 victory against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Kearns scored for the second straight day, giving him 500 professional points, while Darren Nowick netted his first AHL goal in his second game. In addition, Bridgeport was strong on special teams, going 3-for-6 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.
The Sound Tigers open their 10th “3-in-3” of the season on Friday with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against Providence at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Then it’s back home for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against Utica and Hershey respectively. Bridgeport is 0-3-0-0 against Utica this season and 4-2-0-0 against Hershey. Fans can follow all of the action via the team’s online broadcast at www.ahllive.com, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes before the listed start time.
The week ahead:
Bridgeport at Providence Bruins (34-18-5-4) – Friday, Mar. 17 at 7 p.m.
*Bridgeport vs. Utica Comets (28-24-7-2) – Saturday, Mar. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
**Bridgeport vs. Hershey Bears (33-18-8-3) – Sunday, Mar. 19 at 3 p.m.
News and Notes:
Apples to Apples: New York Islanders prospect Devon Toews logged four more assists last week, including two on Sunday, and now leads the Sound Tigers with 34 helpers this season. In fact, Toews enters Week 22 on a five-game assist streak dating back to Mar. 5 and also has helpers in seven of his last eight games. The Quinnipiac University product leads all league rookies in assists and is tied for fourth among AHL defenseman (38 points). Toews has 10 points (all assists) in his last eight games.
Smallest of Margins: Seven of the Sound Tigers last 10 games have been decided by just one goal. In fact, Bridgeport leads the league with 36 games being decided by a single tally (Ontario has 35). The club is 23-10-2-1 in one-goal outcomes overall this season and 15-3-0-0 in one-goal games at home.
Power Up: The Sound Tigers power play came to life on Sunday, scoring a season-high three goals on six opportunities. Overall, Bridgeport’s power play has capitalized at least once in three of its last four games with six goals total during that span (35.3-percent). Steve Bernier leads the club with nine power-play tallies this season, while Bracken Kearns (eight) and Tanner Fritz (six) are close behind. Devon Toews (17) and Ryan Pulock (16) lead the Sound Tigers in power-play points.
Milestone Man: Veteran center Bracken Kearns crossed another milestone on Sunday when he notched his 500th professional point with the game-winning goal against Hartford. The 35-year-old has 211 goals and 289 assists in his 12-year career, including six goals and six assists in 35 NHL games. This season, Kearns leads the Sound Tigers with 21 goals, 43 points and a plus-17 rating. He also has a team-best six game-winning tallies (tied for the league lead). Kearns played his 600th AHL game on Nov. 4, 2016 against Hartford as well as his 800th pro game on Feb. 3, 2017 against Springfield.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is “29”… Thirteen of the Sound Tigers last 15 games will take place against Atlantic Division opponents… Jaroslav Halak is fourth among AHL goaltenders with a .926 save percentage and tied for fourth with a 2.17 goals-against-average… Tanner Fritz is tied for 13th among league rookies with 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists).
The New York Islanders (33-25-11) have pocketed four points in four games since last Wednesday, including a home-and-home split against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday and Tuesday. Former Sound Tiger Josh Ho-Sang scored once and added an assist last night in a 3-2 overtime win at Carolina, giving the rookie sensation three points (two goals, one assist) over the last two days. Overall, Ho-Sang has six points (three goals, three assists) in eight career NHL contests. The Islanders also beat the Vancouver Canucks in overtime last Thursday and fell to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. Former Sound Tiger Josh Bailey registered three assists in Vancouver and now leads the club with 37 helpers this season. The Isles continue to hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They return to action tomorrow night with a 7 p.m. puck drop against the Winnipeg Jets at Barclays Center.
The ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks (28-24-3-5) suffered a 2-1 o3vertime loss to the Wichita Thunder last night, two days after the club clobbered the Tulsa Oilers, 7-2, on Sunday. Former Sound Tigers goaltender Josh Robinson earned the win on Sunday with 33 saves, while forwards Dane Fox and Dan Correale each scored twice. The Mavericks are sixth in the Mountain Division with 64 points in 60 games. They return to action on Friday with an 8:05 p.m. ET puck drop against the Quad City Mallards on the road.
*Pucks and Paws: All pups are welcome at Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game against the Utica Comets, presented by VCA Animal Hospitals. Bring your dog to the game and help support local pet charities by purchasing your tickets here. In addition, receive $2 off your game ticket at the Webster Bank Arena box office when you show your AAA Membership Card.
**Casey Cizikas Bobblehead Night: New York Islanders forward and former Sound Tiger Casey Cizikas will be in attendance at Sunday’s 3 p.m. game against the Hershey Bears. The first 2,000 fans will receive his bobblehead at the door courtesy of IBEW and Casey will meet fans and sign autographs before the game through the first intermission. In addition, receive $2 off your game ticket at the Webster Bank Arena box office when you show your AAA Membership Card. Doors open at 2 p.m. and good seats are still available by clicking here.
For additional details or to reserve seats for any of the 2016-17 giveaway and theme nights, please call the Sound Tigers’ front office at (203) 345-2300.
Executive suites and premium seat packages are also available by calling the team’s front office at (203) 345-4841. If you are interested in group outings with your friends, family, co-workers, or clients an unforgettable experience at a discounted rate, call the group sales hotline 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 email@example.com. Keep up with the latest Sound Tigers news on Facebook and on Twitter. For more team information, log on to soundtigers.com.