SOUND TIGERS 6, PHANTOMS 3
Bracken Kearns scored his first hat trick in his 563rd AHL game, propelling the Sound Tigers to a 6-3 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night at Webster Bank Arena.
The win marked the fifth straight victory for Bridgeport, the team’s second five-game winning streak of the season. It was also the second straight game a Sound Tiger recorded a hat-trick, with Mike Halmo getting one against Albany last Saturday.
The Phantoms opened up the scoring early at 5:08 of the first period on an unfortunate turnover in the Sound Tigers zone. Danick Martel took a shot over Christopher Gibson’s glove that went bar down behind the netminder.
Martel found the back of the net again at 9:30 of the first, this time on the power play. Former Sound Tigers Andrew MacDonald and Colin McDonald set up a tic-tac-toe play for Martel who wristed it into the wide-open net to make it 2-0.
The Sound Tigers got themselves on the scoreboard just over a minute later with a beautiful back and forth play by Taylor Beck and Kearns that left Jason LaBarbera out of position. Beck recovered a turnover deep in the Phantoms zone and after a lot of passing found the stick of Kearns again who buried the puck into the open net.
Ben Holmstrom tied the game at two apiece just 2:46 into the second period. Justin Vaive skated with the puck behind the net and found Holmstrom at the left boards hovering the goal line. Despite LaBarbera hugging the post, the captain was able to find a hole and net his second of the season.
Martel completed his hat trick with his second power play goal of the night to give the Phantoms a 3-2 lead. MacDonald got another assist on the play as he fed Martel the puck in the right circle where he fired a one timer past Gibson.
Kearns found the net once again to tie the game at 3-3 at 10:38 of the second period. Carter Verhaeghe brought the puck into the zone down the right boards and wrapped it around behind the net where he connected with Kearns who roofed the puck past LaBarbera. Kane Lafranchise picked up his first point of the season with an assist on the goal.
Andrew Rowe gave the Sound Tigers a 4-3 lead early in the third period for his third goal in only six games. Rowe took the puck into the zone all alone along the left boards and fought his way through every Phantom in his sight before continuing around the boards to the slot in front where he fired it home.
The Sound Tigers increased their lead with a fifth goal later in the third period. Halmo left a drop pass for Alan Quine in the right circle where Quine took it to the top of the crease and buried it in the net.
Kearns secured the win for the Sound Tigers with the hat trick on an empty net goal just as the third period came to an end.
Gibson made 25 saves on 28 shots in his 12th win of the season. The Sound Tigers went 0-for-2 on the power play tonight, and despite having not allowed a power play goal in the last four games, the Phantoms went 2-for-4.
Bridgeport looks to make it six straight tomorrow night when they travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to take on the Penguins. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.
Verhaeghe – Kearns – Beck
Wright – Quine – Halmo
Vaive – Holmstrom – Holmstrom
Rowe – Gomes – Markison
Cullity – Pulock
Czuczman – Leduc
Lafranchise – Burroughs