The Bridgeport Report: Week 23
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (30-23-5-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned four points in three games last week and eclipsed the 30-win mark for the first time this season. Bridgeport has won six of its last seven, including a remarkable five-goal rally against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Sunday afternoon, keeping the hot streak alive with 15 games left in the regular season. The fifth-place Sound Tigers are five points behind the Charlotte Checkers for the Atlantic Division's final playoff spot, with one game in hand.
Bridgeport completed a four-game road trip on Friday with its season-best fifth straight victory – a 3-2 win against the first-place Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown, Penn. Kristers Gudlevskis was a big reason why, keeping his team in it with 38 saves (one shy of a season high), including 20 in the third period alone. It was Gudlevskis' fourth straight win and helped the Sound Tigers to their first victory against the Phantoms in 2017-18. On the offensive side, Travis St. Denis, Steve Bernier and Parker Wotherspoon all found the back of the net in the team's first of three straight games.
The Phantoms got revenge one day later at Webster Bank Arena, handing Bridgeport a 4-1 loss to end its win streak. The Sound Tigers outshot the visitors 40-18, including a 17-1 margin in the third period, but Kyle Burroughs was the only one who could beat goaltender John Muse. Greg Carey scored two goals for Lehigh Valley, both in the middle frame, and Muse made 39 saves for his ninth win in 11 AHL appearances this season.
On Sunday, the Sound Tigers came all the way back from a four-goal deficit in the opening six minutes to score a 5-4 victory against Springfield at Webster Bank Arena. Ryan Bourque (one goal, one assist), Casey Bailey (one goal, one assist), Kane Lafranchise (two assists) and Josh Ho-Sang (two assists) all recorded a multi-point effort, while Gudlevskis (11-11-5) made 14 saves in relief. The Latvian netminder took over for Eamon McAdam at 5:18 of the first period and didn't allow a goal the rest of the way. In addition, Wotherspoon, St. Denis and Connor Jones also found the back of the cage to help the Sound Tigers snap Springfield's nine-game point streak (6-0-3-0).
The Sound Tigers return to action this Thursday to face the Rochester Americans (30-16-10-6) in the first of three games in four days. The Islanders' top affiliate will conclude its season series against the Amerks before hitting the road to battle the Hershey Bears (25-29-4-5) on Friday and the Providence Bruins (36-20-3-2) on Sunday. 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:
Thursday, Mar. 15 vs. Rochester Americans (7 p.m.) – Get three (3) tickets for just $15 by clicking here as a reminder that the game initially scheduled for Mar. 17 is now on Thursday, Mar. 15. The offer is only available online and not at the Webster Bank Arena Click It or Ticket Box Office. In addition, take advantage of $1 hot dogs and $5 draft beers at all first-level concession stands, presented by Hummel Brothers and Budweiser, when the Sound Tigers host the Amerks for the final time this season. Bridgeport is 1-1-1-0 against Rochester.
Friday, Mar. 16 at Hershey Bears (7 p.m.) – The Sound Tigers open another four-game road trip on Friday with their second of three visits to Giant Center. Bridgeport is 3-0-0-0 against Hershey this season, including a 3-1 victory at Webster Bank Arena in their last tilt on Jan. 27, in which Scott Eansor scored twice.
Sunday, Mar. 18 at Providence Bruins (3:05 p.m.) – The Sound Tigers make their sixth and final trip to Dunkin' Donuts Center in Rhode Island, where they opened the season 3-0-0-0, but are 0-2-0-0 since Feb. 16.
News and notes:
Promising Prospect: New York Islanders prospect Parker Wotherspoon has been a scoring machine over the last four games. The 2015 fourth-round pick has four goals over that span, including two game-winners, and now ranks fifth among first-year defensemen in the AHL with seven goals this season. Wotherspoon has added nine assists and a plus-five rating through 46 games and is currently on a career-best four-game point streak (four goals, two assists), dating back to Mar. 3.
Playoff Picture: As the Sound Tigers enter the final five 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 still with one game in hand on the fourth-place Charlotte Checkers. The Sound Tigers have put some distance on the sixth-place Springfield Thunderbirds (seven-point differential and with one game in hand) as the team enters its final 15-game stretch. The top four teams in each of the AHL's four divisions will qualify for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs (no crossover).
Top of the Leaderboard: Second-year forward Travis St. Denis has scored in four of his last six games and following his 17th goal of the season in Sunday's 5-4 win, the Quinnipiac University product now leads the team in that department. St. Denis is also Bridgeport's active leading scorer with 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 59 games and has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in his last 20 outings. He paces the team with seven power-play goals as well.
Quick Hits: Josh Ho-Sang missed two games last weekend due to illness, but returned to the lineup on Sunday and notched his fifth multi-point performance of the season (two helpers)… Casey Bailey assisted on two power-play goals last weekend and now leads the club with 15 power-play points (six goals, nine assists)… Former Yale University captain Ryan Hitchcock, who signed an amateur tryout (ATO) with Bridgeport on Thursday, made his professional debut on Sunday and recorded one shot… The Sound Tigers are just 2-4-0-1 when recording 40 or more shots this season… Mitch Vande Sompel returned to Bridgeport's lineup Sunday after missing 13 games with an upper-body injury… Vande Sompel is tied for the team lead among defensemen with 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) in 43 contests.
Games played: Ben Holmstrom, Casey Bailey, Seth Helgeson (61)
Goals: Travis St. Denis (17)
Assists: Tanner Fritz (27)*
Points: Tanner Fritz (37)*
Plus/minus: Kyle Burroughs (+16)
Penalty minutes: Ross Johnston* (113)
Power-play goals: Travis St. Denis (7)
Shots: Casey Bailey (171)
* = Currently playing with the New York Islanders
Former Sound Tiger and 2018 AHL All-Star Christopher Gibson made 50 saves on Sunday, backstopping the New York Islanders (30-29-10) to a 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. It was an NHL career high in saves for Gibson and his second career NHL victory (2-1-3), while former Sound Tiger Anders Lee scored twice on the offensive side. The win snapped New York's eight-game slide and moved the team within seven points of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Lee paces the Islanders with 33 goals in 53 games, and John Tavares (31 goals, 38 assists) and Mat Barzal (18 goals, 51 assists) are tied for the team lead with 69 points in 69 games. The Islanders return to action this Thursday with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Washington Capitals at Barclays Center. Nine of the club's final 12 games will take place at home.
The Worcester Railers H.C. (27-25-4-3) collected two points in two games last week and continue to sit fifth in the North Division standings with 13 games remaining. Worcester dropped a 5-2 decision to the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday morning, despite Chris Langkow's 17th goal of the season, but the club responded with a 12-round shootout victory over the Adirondack Thunder on Sunday. Matt Lane and former Sound Tiger Jeff Kubiak each scored in regulation, while Mitch Gilliam made 28 saves in nearly 65 minutes of work before stopping 11 of 12 in the shootout. Mike Cornell, who was loaned to Worcester earlier in the day, recorded the game-deciding goal in the 12th round. The Railers open a three-game series this Friday against Wheeling, before welcoming the Fort Wayne Komets and Utah Grizzlies to the DCU Center.
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About the Bridgeport Sound Tigers
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