Fritz Scores Twice in 6-4 Loss to CharlotteJan 16, 2019
Tanner Fritz scored twice and three others collected multiple points on Wednesday, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-14-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, suffered a 6-4 loss to the Charlotte Checkers (30-9-2-0) at Bojangles Coliseum.
Defensemen Yannick Rathgeb and Chris Casto also scored on Charlotte goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, while Josh Ho-Sang, Travis St. Denis, Matt Gaudreau chipped in two assists each. The setback was Bridgeport's third in a row and dropped the club to 2-3-0-0 against the Checkers this season.
The Sound Tigers remain second place in the Atlantic Division, 13 points behind the first-place Checkers through 42 games.
Charlotte built a substantial lead in the first period, scoring four of the first five goals and relieving Jeremy Smith (no decision) from Bridgeport's crease early on. Aleksi Saarela broke the ice just 3:32 into the game when he raced down the right wing and beat Smith from a sharp angle at the bottom of the circle. It was his second goal in as many days and his 13th of the year overall.
Fritz responded and drew the score back even with his first of two goals on the night at 9:13 of the opening period. Gaudreau played the puck to Fritz in the neutral zone and charged ahead with St. Denis to his left. Fritz guided the puck to the wing, where St. Denis gathered it and sent it right back across the doorstep for a back-door tap-in to make it 1-1.
Nick Schilkey began a string of three straight goals for the Checkers with his first of two on the evening at the 13:27 mark, converting his sixth goal of the season to put Charlotte ahead 2-1. Just 25 seconds later, Trevor Carrick recorded one of his game-high four points (one goal, three assists) with a slapper from the high slot that beat Smith's blocker to make it 3-1.
Morgan Geekie capped the first-period scoring with his 13th goal of the year at the 15:56 mark, which was also Charlotte's only tally on the power play. With Kieffer Bellows in the box for high-sticking, Carrick set up above the slot and ripped a slap shot towards the crease that Geekie deflected down at the doorstep and past Smith. It ended Smith's night and Christopher Gibson came on in relief, one night after making 25 saves on 26 shots in Tuesday's 1-0 setback.
Fritz got the Sound Tigers back to within a pair at 12:57 of the middle frame when he capitalized on the power play to make it 4-2. After Haydn Fleury was accessed a cross-checking minor, Chris Bourque directed a pass to Gaudreau at the left half-wall, and the second-year forward forced a centering feed to the doorstep. Fritz skated in front of Nedeljkovic and jammed home his eighth goal of the season to quiet the noisy crowd.
Rathgeb made it 4-3 less than five minutes later with his fourth goal of the season. St. Denis and Ho-Sang teamed up in the offensive zone to set up Rathgeb at the high slot, where he reached back and hammered a shot through traffic and past Nedeljkovic. It gave the Sound Tigers life, but Charlotte quickly responded and cancelled out any additional momentum when Schilkey netted his second goal of the game with just 8.5 seconds left in the period. Carrick had his initial drive blocked in the left circle, but the rebound skipped back near the point and Schilkey turned and beat Gibson with a lengthy wrist shot to make it 5-3.
Both teams traded a tally in the third period for the 6-4 final, including Casto's second goal of the season for the Sound Tigers. Seth Helgeson and Ho-Sang played catch before Casto fired a shot from the parameter that sailed in short side.
Poturalski regained Charlotte's two-goal advantage with a successful penalty shot at 16:40 of the third period. The Checkers' leading scorer earned the opportunity when he snuck behind Bridgeport's defense and was pulled down by Helgeson between the circles. He converted the subsequent chance for his team-leading 17th tally of the season.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill, while Charlotte outshot Bridgeport 32-29. Gibson (10-7-4) made 18 saves in 41:34 of relief and took the loss between the pipes.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers host the Providence Bruins for their popular Star Wars Night this Saturday, featuring a 7 p.m. puck drop at Webster Bank Arena. The first 3,000 fans receive a free lightsaber and everyone in attendance is encouraged to meet Star Wars characters on the concourse. A $25 ticket package is on sale now (online or over the phone only), which includes access to the game and a food voucher valid for one (1) hot dog, one (1) soft drink, one (1) bag of chips and one (1) guaranteed lightsaber. Fans may call the Sound Tigers front office at 203-345-2300 ext. 7 or CLICK HERE to purchase!
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers 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 (Mar. 17), Star Wars Night (Jan. 19) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will also be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24). View the full 2018-19 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.