The Bridgeport Report: Week 22
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (28-22-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, are heating up right in stride with their playoff push, winning four straight games for the second time this season. The Sound Tigers collected all six points during a three-game stretch last week and are tied with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, this weekend's opponent, for the longest active win streak in the Eastern Conference. Bridgeport is five points outside of a playoff spot with 18 games left in the regular season.
Travis St. Denis beat Rochester's Linus Ullmark less than 90 seconds into overtime on Wednesday as the Sound Tigers opened a four-game road trip with a 2-1 victory against the Amerks at Blue Cross Arena. Michael Dal Colle also contributed with his seventh goal of the season, which began the scoring in the opening period, while Kristers Gudlevskis (9-10-5) provided confidence in the crease with 25 saves on 26 shots. With the victory, Bridgeport snapped its six-game slide on the road (0-4-1-1), dating back to Jan. 16.
The Sound Tigers won their third consecutive game on Friday with a 4-2 victory against the Laval Rocket in their inaugural trip to Place Bell outside Montreal. Kane Lafranchise scored the game-winning goal in the final eight minutes of regulation, while St. Denis, Stephen Gionta and Ben Holmstrom also found the back of the cage. Between the pipes, Gudlevskis made 22 saves in his 200th professional appearance to extend his personal win streak to a season-best three games. The Latvian netminder has stopped 86 of 89 (.966) shots since Feb. 25.
On Sunday, Bridgeport battled back from an early-two goal deficit in its weekend finale to earn a 4-2 win against the Belleville Senators at Yardmen Arena. Parker Wotherspoon stole the show, scoring the game-tying and go-ahead goals in the third period, which helped the Sound Tigers sweep their two-game series against the Senators and record their first four-game win streak since Nov. 15-24. Josh Ho-Sang and Holmstrom also found the back of the net, while Eamon McAdam (1-1-0) made 23 saves in his second AHL start this year.
The Sound Tigers will look to push their win streak to five games this Friday when the club opens its seventh “3-in-3” of the season. Bridgeport travels to Allentown, Penn. to challenge the first-place Phantoms (38-15-3-4) Friday night before returning to Webster Bank Arena for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against Lehigh Valley and the Springfield Thunderbirds (27-28-3-1), respectively. 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:
Friday, Mar. 9 at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (7:05 p.m.) – The Sound Tigers visit PPL Center for the third time this season to conclude a four-game road trip. Bridgeport is 0-3-2-0 against Lehigh Valley this season and 0-1-1-0 in Allentown, Penn., including a 5-4 overtime loss in their last trip on Nov. 25. Phantoms defenseman Will O'Neill capped a two-goal performance with the game-winner just 82 seconds into overtime that night.
Saturday, Mar. 10 vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (7:30 p.m.) – Your favorite comic book characters and superheroes are taking over Webster Bank Arena when the Sound Tigers host “ComiConn Night,” presented by Altered Reality Entertainment and Traynor Collision Center. A special ticket package is available that includes a seat to the game, a ComiConn souvenir and more starting at just $25. 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 reserve your seats.
Sunday, Mar. 11 vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (3 p.m.) – Bring your dog(s) to Webster Bank Arena this Sunday for the popular Pucks & Paws Day, presented by VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Centers (Shoreline and VREC). 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 and more.
News and notes:
One Tough Tandem: Kristers Gudlevskis and Eamon McAdam have been nearly untouchable over the last four games in the absence of Christopher Gibson, who was emergency recalled by the New York Islanders on Feb. 19. The duo has guided Bridgeport to its first four-game win streak since November, allowing just five goals total during that span. In addition, the Sound Tigers have allowed two goals or less in each of their last five games, dating back to Feb. 25. Gudlevskis is 3-0-0 with a 0.99 goals-against-average and .966 save percentage in his last three starts, while McAdam is 1-1-0 with a 1.62 goals-against-average and .934 save percentage in three AHL appearances this season.
Playoff Picture: As the Sound Tigers enter the final six weeks of the regular season, the club finds itself on the outside looking in. Bridgeport continues to rank fifth in the Atlantic Division standings, five points behind the cut-off spot, but with two games in hand on the fourth-place Charlotte Checkers. The Sound Tigers have put some distance on the sixth-place Hartford Wolf Pack (four-point differential and with three games in hand) as the team enters its final 18-game stretch. The top four teams in each of the AHL's four divisions will qualify for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Power Up: Prior to Travis St. Denis' second-period goal in Friday's win at Laval, the Sound Tigers had gone 0-for-31 on the power play – their worst drought in more than two years. However, St. Denis buried a wrist shot behind goaltender Michael McNiven, which ignited the club's power play and led to a 4-for-8 performance over Bridgeport's last two contests. The Sound Tigers' power play has scored at least two goals in eight games this season and currently ranks 19th in the AHL (16.3%)
Quick Hits: Steve Bernier played his 800th professional game last Saturday and Casey Bailey also crossed a milestone, making his 200th professional appearance against Belleville… The Sound Tigers' penalty kill is fourth in the AHL at 85.7%... Travis St. Denis has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his last 17 games… Josh Ho-Sang is on a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists).
Games played: Ben Holmstrom, Casey Bailey, Seth Helgeson (58)
Goals: Scott Eansor (16)
Assists: Tanner Fritz (27)*
Points: Tanner Fritz (37)*
Plus/minus: Kyle Burroughs (+15)
Penalty minutes: Ross Johnston* (113)
Power-play goals: Scott Eansor, Casey Bailey, Travis St. Denis (6)
Shots: Casey Bailey (164)
* = Currently playing with the New York Islanders
NHL All-Star and former Sound Tigers forward Josh Bailey scored his 17th goal of the season for the New York Islanders (29-29-9) in Monday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. It was the Isles seventh straight setback (0-4-3), placing the club six points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Rookie sensation Mat Barzal also contributed with two assists, and now paces the club (and all NHL rookies) with 69 points and 51 helpers in 67 games, while John Tavares and former Sound Tiger Anders Lee are tied for the team lead with 31 goals. The Islanders continue a four-game road trip on Thursday with a 9 p.m. ET puck drop against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.
The Worcester Railers H.C. (26-24-4-3) notched four points in four games last week and continue to sit fifth in the North Division standings with 15 games remaining. The Railers swept a two-game series against Pittsburgh's ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, helped by former Sound Tigers forward Chris Langkow (one goal, two assists). However, Worcester also suffered setbacks to the Brampton Beast and Manchester Monarchs, including a 4-1 loss in its last outing on Sunday. Langkow is second on the team with 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) and third in goal scoring. Worcester returns to action on Wednesday with a 10:45 a.m. puck drop against the Nailers at Wesbanco Arena in Wheeling, W.V.
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.