The Bridgeport Report: Week 1
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-1-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, opened their 2018-19 season last weekend with a two-game split in Pennsylvania. Former first-round pick Michael Dal Colle (2014) paved the way offensively with a team-high four points (one goal, three assists), while several other first-rounders also made an impact.
Islanders' 2016 first-round selection Kieffer Bellows scored a goal in his professional debut on Saturday, but it wasn't enough in a 6-3 setback to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Bridgeport's season opener at PPL Center. Dal Colle (one goal, one assist) and Mitch Vande Sompel (one goal, one assist) also scored 17 seconds apart midway through the third period, while first-rounder Josh Ho-Sang (2014) notched two assists. Two of Bridgeport's three goals came on the power play.
Less than 24 hours later, the Sound Tigers continued that trend and scored twice on the power play for the second straight night, defeating the Hershey Bears on Sunday at Giant Center. Former Bear Chris Bourque, who signed with Bridgeport on July 9, notched his first goal with the Sound Tigers and Steve Bernier also collected the game-winner early in the third period, while Jeremy Smith (1-0-0) backstopped the winning effort with 20 saves in his team debut. Dal Colle chipped in two assists for his second consecutive two-point night.
The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena this weekend with a pair of matchups against the Rochester Americans, including their 2018-19 home opener on Saturday at 1 p.m. Fans can follow all of the action online through AHLTV.
The week ahead:
Saturday, Oct. 13 vs. Rochester Americans (1 p.m.): The Sound Tigers celebrate their home opener this Saturday by giving away free backpacks to the first 2,500 kids (14 years of age or younger) courtesy of All Electric Construction and Communication. Added family fun will be provided in the Kids Zone on the outdoor plaza, presented by Big Y, which includes inflatables and food and beverage specials. In addition, all students who participate in the CHET summer reading program will receive a FREE ticket to the game. Click here for details.
Sunday, Oct. 14 vs. Rochester Americans (3 p.m.): The Sound Tigers will host their first-ever Car Cruise and Elvis Tribute Day this Sunday prior to the team's matchup against Rochester. Beginning at noon, the plaza will come to life with a magnificent showcase of automobiles, featuring hot rods from the past and present. In addition, Elvis Tribute Artist Jeff Krick will rock the plaza with a must-see concert at 1:30 p.m., highlighted by food and beverage specials during pre-game party. “Elvis” will also perform during the second intermission and the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a pair of Elvis sunglasses at the door. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com or the Webster Bank Arena Click It or Ticket Box Office.
News and Notes:
A Night To Remember: Kieffer Bellows made his highly-anticipated professional debut Saturday night in Allentown, Penn. and it took him less than two periods to score his first goal. The Islanders' 19th overall pick in 2016 deflected Chris Bourque's centering feed while on the power play, which snuck past goaltender Carter Hart late in the middle frame. Bellows, the son of former Stanley Cup Champion Brian Bellows, also scored two power-play goals during NHL preseason play this year which co-led all first-year players.
Inching Closer to History: Six-time AHL All-Star Chris Bourque played parts of nine seasons with the Hershey Bears, but on Sunday, he returned to Giant Center on the opposite bench and scored his first goal with the Sound Tigers. It was his 237th career AHL goal (which ties him with Paul Gladu for 50th all-time) and his 694th career point (24th all-time). Bourque, a two-time AHL scoring champion and former MVP, is currently the League's active leading scorer.
Power Up: The Sound Tigers are 4-for-11 (36.4%) on the power play to begin the season and are one of only four teams with four goals on the man advantage. Michael Dal Colle leads the way with three power-play points (one goal, two assists) after recording just seven total a year ago. On the flip side of special teams, Bridgeport's penalty kill has also been superb, beginning the season 8-for-8.
Quick Hits: Kieffer Bellows was the only Sound Tiger to make his professional debut last weekend… Otto Koivula made his North American debut on Saturday night… Ben Holmstrom sat out Saturday's game as a healthy scratch, ending his streak of 228 consecutive games played, which was the AHL's longest active streak… It was the first time Holmstrom has missed a game with Bridgeport… The Sound Tigers roster includes 4,470 games of AHL experience and 883 games of NHL experience.
Goals: Five tied (1)
Assists: Michael Dal Colle (3)
Points: Michael Dal Colle (4)
Plus/Minus: Five tied (Even)
Penalty Minutes: Connor Jones, Sebastian Aho (4)
Power-play goals: Four tied (1)
Shots: Michael Dal Colle, Sebastian Aho (6)
The New York Islanders (2-1-0) have won two of their first three games to kick off the 2018-19 campaign, including a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday at Barclays Center. Former Sound Tigers scored all four goals for the parent club, including captain Anders Lee who notched his second with the ‘C'. Scott Mayfield, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas also found the back of the net, while Robin Lehner made 35 saves in his team debut and became the first Islanders goaltender to ever record a shutout in his first game with the club. Aside from Monday's win, the Isles also defeated Carolina in overtime, 2-1, last Thursday and fell to Nashville, 4-3, on Saturday. Mat Barzal and former Sound Tiger Josh Bailey each have four points to begin the season and enter the upcoming four-game road trip on a three-game point streak. The Islanders are back in action this Saturday with a 8 p.m. ET puck drop in Nashville.
The ECHL's Worcester Railers HC open their second season this Saturday with a 7 p.m. faceoff against the Reading Royals at Santander Arena. The Railers, which announced an affiliation extension with the Sound Tigers and Islanders on May 31, are led by forward Josh Holmstrom and goaltender Mitch Gillam who were both loaned to Worcester within the last two weeks. Defensemen Mike Cornell, Ryan MacKinnon, Tyler Mueller and David Quenneville are also currently under contract with the Sound Tigers. Quenneville was selected by the Islanders in the seventh round (#200 overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft and made his pro debut with Bridgeport at the end of last season.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers will boast one of their most extensive and wide-ranging promotional schedules ever for the 2018-19 season. The fan-friendly calendar includes the return of popular themes like Hockey and Hops (Nov. 23 and Mar. 17), Military Appreciation (Jan. 12), Star Wars Night (Jan. 19) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24), while other new headliners include Holiday Gift Weekend (Dec. 15-16) and a revamped Teddy Bear Toss (Nov. 23). View the full 2017-18 promotional schedule.
For additional details or to reserve a group outing for any giveaway or theme night, please call the Sound Tigers' front office at (203) 345-2300 ext 7.
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.