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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-33-5-2), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period on Sunday to earn a 6-5 shootout win against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (24-28-2-7) at PPL Center.
Newcomer Terry Broadhurst, who was acquired in a trade with Charlotte last Monday, scored once in regulation and ended the two-round shootout in just his third game with Bridgeport. Nic Pierog and Robert Carpenter also converted in a span of less than six minutes to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 5-5 deadlock, which forced overtime.
The Sound Tigers ended their six-game season series with Lehigh Valley at 3-2-1-0 and won both games against the Phantoms on the weekend. The final three meetings in the series included 34 combined goals (17-17).
Travis St. Denis opened the scoring just 4:05 into the first period when he capitalized for the 11th time this season, tying Andrew Ladd for the second-most goals on the team. Nick Schilkey crossed the blue line at the left point and sent a diagonal pass to Jordan Schmaltz in the slot, who touched the puck to the right circle for St. Denis’ one-timer. It was his 63rd career goal with Bridgeport, tying Steve Bernier for fifth place on the team’s all-time list. In addition, Schmaltz logged his first point (assist) with the Sound Tigers.
The Phantoms responded with three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead into the final minutes of the first. Gerry Fitzgerald finished off a wraparound at the 10:19 mark, narrowly filtering a forehand shot under Christopher Gibson’s pads for his seventh goal. Reece Willcox followed with a one-time slap shot from above the right circle to give Lehigh Valley the lead and Isaac Ratcliffe scored a shorthanded goal at 17:38. Ratcliffe’s sixth goal of the season was knocked home on a two-on-rush led by Mikhail Vorobyev, who finished with a game-high three points for the home team (one goal, two assists).
Sebastian Aho got one back for Bridgeport with the afternoon’s only power-play goal, despite 13 combined opportunities in a penalty-filled affair. With Nate Prosser in the box for tripping, Aho settled Oliver Wahlstrom’s pass at the blue line and directed a long-range shot through traffic and past the blocker of Kirill Ustimenko. It was Aho’s third goal of the season and his team-leading 13th power-play point. St. Denis also logged another point with the secondary assist.
Lehigh Valley bounced back and extended its lead to a game-high three goals with 8,500 cheering loudly in the background. Vorobyev registered his 12th goal of the season with a backhand shot from the right circle that found a hole on Gibson. More than a full period later, Greg Carey banked the puck ahead and sprung David Kase on a breakaway that he finished for his seventh goal of the year. It put the Phantoms on top 5-2 at 5:07 of the third.
A resilient Sound Tigers team, that scored six times in Lehigh Valley on Friday, bounced back with the next three goals in a span of 5:26 to tie the contest. Broadhurst made it 5-3 with his first goal of the season at 9:35, finding daylight just inside the left post and Ustimenko’s reaching glove. Less than three minutes later, Pierog settled Hutton’s pass and wheeled through the slot before beating Ustimenko with a wrister for his third goal of the season and second of the weekend. It was also his sixth goal against Ustimenko this season between the AHL and ECHL.
Carpenter completed the rally and tied the game at 15:01 of the third period with his fourth goal of the season and also his second of the weekend. Hutton fired a long-distance shot from the blue line that was deflected down in the low slot and Carpenter muscled it home.
Following a scoreless five-minute overtime session, Wahlstrom and Broadhurst each scored in a brief two-round shootout, while Gibson didn’t allow a single goal on two Phantoms’ opportunities. Wahlstrom improved to 3-for-4 in shootout attempts.
Gibson (9-8-5) made 20 saves on 25 shots against, while Ustimenko (1-3-1) turned aside 25 chances in his fifth AHL appearance. Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-8 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Toronto Marlies. Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
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 [email protected]. Follow the action all season long via www.soundtigers.com or by “liking” the Sound Tigers onFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.