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BIG WEEKEND APPROACHES FOR SOUND TIGERS

Courtesy: SoundTigers.com
          Release: 04/05/2013
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THIS WEEKEND -  The Bridgeport Sound Tigers host two pivotal games at Webster Bank Arena this weekend as they look to make one final push towards the Calder Cup Playoffs. With just eight games remaining in the regular season schedule, the Sound Tigers have pulled to within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as of Friday morning. Heading into the weekend, the Sound Tigers face a uphill battle as they sit in 12th place, but have won their last two games against the Worcester Sharks to narrow the gap to eighth place.

EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS (as of Fri., April 5)
Pos.
Team Ovr. Record Points Games Left
7th
CT Whale 33-27-5-3 74 8
8th
Hershey Bears 32-26-3-6 73 9
9th Norfolk Admirals 33-30-4-1 71 8
10th Albany Devils 29-26-1-11 70 9
11th Manchester Monarchs 31-29-3-4 69

9

12th SOUND TIGERS 29-28-6-5 69

8


UPCOMING MATCHUPS

SATURDAY, APR. 6 VS. CT WHALE - WEBSTER BANK ARENA, 7 PM


The Sound Tigers close out their season series with the CT Whale tomorrow night at 7 PM. Bridgeport boasts a 5-3-1-0 mark agaimst the Whale this season, and are 2-1-1-0 at Webster Bank Arena against their in-state rivals. Over the past two regular seasons, the Sound Tigers are 7-1-1-0 against the Whale at home. The Sound Tigers have scored at least one power play goal in seven of their nine games against the Whale this season, and a win on Saturday night could potentially bring the Sound Tigers within two points of eighth-place Hershey. Rick DiPietro has started the Sound Tigers' last five games, and is now 7-5-0 on the season since joining Bridgeport in late February.

Although the Sound Tigers and Islanders didn't make any trades at the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday, the Sound Tigers added two key offensive players. Islanders' 2011 first round (fifth overall) pick Ryan Strome was assigned to the Sound Tigers on Monday, and has posted four points (1g/3a) in his first two pro games. David Ullstrom was returned by the Islanders on Wednesday, and assisted on Matt Watkins' eventual game-winning goal in Thursday's 6-3 win over Worcester. After a long stretch of struggles, the power play has seemed to regain its form from earlier in the season. The Sound Tigers went 3-for-5 on the power play on Thursday, and have eight power play goals in their last five games.

SUNDAY, APR. 7 VS. ADIRONDACK - WEBSTER BANK ARENA, 5 PM

Bridgeport will look to avenge a poor showing in Glens Falls last weekend on Sunday evening when they host the Adirondack Phantoms in their season-series finale. The Phantoms have give the Sound Tigers some matchup problems this season, and Bridgeport is just 2-3-0-0 against Adirondack this year. The Sound Tigers dropped a 4-1 decision in Adirondack last Saturday, defeated the Phantoms at Webster Bank Arena by a 4-3 score on March 2. The Phantoms currently sit out of the playoff picture in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, but have won five of their past eight games.


THIS WEEKEND'S STORYLINES


DONOVAN PRODUCING POINTS - Similar to his strong second half last seasom, Sound Tigers defenseman Matt Donovan has hit his stride over the past two months. His most impressive performance came Thursday, when he set a record for a Sound Tigers defenseman with four points (1g/3a) in the 6-3 win over Worcester. Over has last 25 games, Donovan has recorded 20 points (6g/14a) and shows a plus-10 rating. Donovan leads the team in plus/minus with a plus-15 rating this season, and he is now ranked third amongst AHL defensemen in scoring.

NELSON NEW SCORING LEADER - With two goals and an assist on Thurday, Brock Nelson passed Nino Niederreiter as the Sound Tigers' current leading scorer with 48 points (21g/27a). Nelson is third amongst AHL rookies in scoring, and has average a point per game (7g/8a) in his last 15 contests. The Warroad, MN native also leads the Sound Tigers with five game-winning goals this season, is tied with Niederreiter for the team-lead in PPG (9), and tied with Brandon DeFazio with two shortanded tallies.

STROME'S STRONG START
- Islanders' 2011 first round pick Ryan Strome has had no issues adjusting to the pro game after finishing his junior career with Niagara (OHL) last week. The Mississauga, ON native recorded a goal and an assist in his pro debut, a 4-2 win over Worcester, and followed that with two assists in Thursday's win against the Sharks.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Coaches often say that special teams play a big role in the outcome of a game, but that has held especially true for the Sound Tigers this season. Bridgeport has won just seven games when they have failed to score at least one power play goal, and are 8-26-2-2 when allowing at least one power play goal. The power play has turned around recently with the addition of Ryan Strome as a fourth forward on the top power play unit. Adirondack and the Whale are ranked 14th and 18th in the AHL on the power play, and 7th and 25th on the penalty kill.

DIPIETRO IN NET - Rick DiPietro has started the last five games for the Sound Tigers, and will see action in at least one of this weekend's games. DiPietro is 6-3-0 over his last nine starts, including a 33-save performance in a 2-0 shutout victory over Albany on March 17.

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