PHANTOMS 4, SOUND TIGERS 1
It was too little too late in their quest to clinch a playoff berth in front of the home crowd, as Bridgeport fell to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 4-1.
The offense struggled through the first two periods before Tyler Barnes broke through in the third for the lone Sound Tigers goal of the game.
Lehigh Valley jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with just 8:15 gone in the first period. Robert Hagg earned his fourth goal of the season when he snuck a slap shot from the top right of the zone through a screen in front of the net and past Parker Milner. Taylor Leier earned his 29th assist on the play, and Travis Sanheim tallied his first AHL point on the secondary assist.
The Phantoms dominated possession throughout the first period and outshot the Sound Tigers 15 to 4. Milner came up big with a sprawling stop at the 16:39 mark when chaos broke out in front of the net. After that the momentum shifted back in Bridgeport’s favor when they got their second power play of the period, which led to an extended offensive zone attack.
That momentum didn’t carry over though as Lehigh Valley doubled the lead in the second period to 2-0 after only 13 seconds ticked off the clock. Former Sound Tiger Colin McDonald fired a shot from the right faceoff circle which bounced off of Milner and froze right before the goal line. Leier came flying in to bury the rebound into the back of the net for his 20th goal of the season and second point of the night.
The Phantoms netted themselves another power play goal to go up 3-0 with 2:36 remaining in the middle frame. Danick Martel gathered the pass from Phil DeSimone, and ripped a shot from the left wing that clanged off the post and bounced off the back of Milner. The Sound Tigers net-minder could not recover in time and Samuel Morin earned his fourth goal on the easy put-back off the rebound.
Perhaps the Sound Tigers best scoring opportunity came with 5:42 gone in the final period. Ben Holmstrom was able to poke the puck away at the blueline, and had himself a one-on-one opportunity with Anthony Stolarz. He deked the Phantoms goalie, but missed wide right with the backhand.
The Phantoms never let up and tallied another goal with 12:06 remaining in the third period to go up 4-0. 19-year old Nicolas Aube-Kubel picked up the puck in the trapezoid and got himself open in the left faceoff circle. He wound up the wrister, and beat Milner to find the top left corner of the goal for his first AHL score of his career.
Bridgeport did get a consolation goal to break up the shutout with 18.7 seconds left in the third period to cut the deficit to three. Kyle Schempp sent a slap shot towards net, which was tapped by Barnes who then buried his own rebound past Stolarz. It was Barnes’ second goal in as many AHL games and Schempp’s second assist.
The third was far and away the Sound Tigers best period offensively, as they outshot the Phantoms 19 to 8. Bridgeport now is 39-27-4-3, and has three games left in their pursuit of the playoffs.
Bridgeport will be scoreboard watching on Wednesday as a regulation loss for the Hartford Wolf Pack in Toronto solidifies a playoff spot. The Sound Tigers’ next game comes on Friday at Portland with puck drop at 7:00 p.m.
Wright – Cliche – Barnes
Halmo – Jones – Fritz
Florek – B. Holmstrom – J. Holmstrom
Gomes – Schempp – Markison
Czuczman – Carkner
Lafranchise – Burroughs
Wotherspoon – Cullity