THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers close out opening weekend with a 1 p.m. matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center this afternoon. The Sound Tigers (0-1-0-0) will look to get back even after a 4-1 setback to the Providence Bruins in their season opener on Friday. Bobo Carpenter scored Bridgeport's lone goal on the power play midway through the third period and also had a penalty-shot attempt, while Jakub Skarek made 27 saves on 30 shots. It was Bridgeport's first game in 331 days and its first of 24 contests in 2020-21. Today will mark Hartford’s first game of the season.
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TIGERS VS. WOLF PACK
Today's game marks the first of 12 matchups between the Sound Tigers and Wolf Pack, and the first of six inside the XL Center. Bridgeport went 1-5-2-0 against Hartford last year, with its only victory coming on Dec. 27, 2019 at home. The Wolf Pack won the last head-to-head meeting on Feb. 29, 2020, led by Tim Gettinger's two goals. Gettinger is Hartford’s top returning goal scorer from a year ago (16).
The Sound Tigers will play just 24 games over a 92-day period this season, running through Saturday, May 8th. It's the lightest schedule in the AHL (tied with Hartford) and features just two opponents all year: the Wolf Pack and Providence Bruins. In addition, the Sound Tigers will not play on consecutive days at all this season and will average a game every 3.8 days.
Eighteen players on the Sound Tigers' season-opening roster have previously worn the team's jersey in at least one regular-season game. That includes highly-touted winger Simon Holmstrom and defenseman Parker Wotherspoon, Bridgeport's top returning point-getter. Six players have NHL experience (1,321 total games) and 17 players are currently on an NHL contract with the New York Islanders, including A.J. Greer who signed after being acquired in a trade for Kyle Burroughs in October. There are 15 AHL rookies on the Sound Tigers' season-opening roster and five players are still looking to make their pro debut (forwards Blade Jenkins, Cole Coskey and Nick Pastujov, defenseman Adam Brubacher and goalie Francis Marotte).
CARPENTER COLLECTS HIS FIRST
Bobo Carpenter scored the Sound Tigers' first goal of the season on Friday and now has three goals in his last four games, dating back to March. Carpenter had just four goals in 28 games last season following an injury that kept him out until December. In addition, Carpenter nearly had a two-goal performance on Friday but was denied on a penalty-shot opportunity in the final six minutes of the third period. It was the first time in franchise history that the Sound Tigers have had a penalty shot in the season opener.
HELGESON NAMED CAPTAIN
Veteran defenseman Seth Helgeson was named Sound Tigers captain last weekend and will wear the 'C' for the first time in his eight-year professional career. Helgeson was an alternate captain with Bridgeport each of the last three seasons and also served as an alternate captain with the Albany Devils in 2016-17. The University of Minnesota product signed a two-year, AHL deal with the Sound Tigers in October, and has 74 points (10g, 64a) and 628 penalty minutes in 432 AHL games.
Head coach Brent Thompson returns for his eighth season behind the Bridgeport bench and his 10th year with the New York Islanders organization. Thompson is the Sound Tigers' all-time winningest head coach and is 255-212-52 in 519 regular-season games with Bridgeport. He coached his 500th AHL game on Jan. 24, 2020. Previously, Thompson served as head coach of the ECHL's Alaska Aces from 2009-11, winning the Kelly Cup Championship and the John Brophy Award (ECHL Coach of the Year) in 2011.
Kyle MacLean, Brett Neumann, Felix Bibeau and Samuel Bolduc each made their pro debut on Friday... Simon Holmstrom had the secondary assist on Bobo Carpenter's goal on Friday and now has four assists in his last three AHL games, dating back to last March... Tanner Fritz enters the 2020-21 season ranked 10th on the Sound Tigers' all-time scoring list (129 points) and tied for seventh on the team's all-time assists list (86)... One more assist will tie him with Matt Donovan (2010-14) and one more point will match Justin Mapletoft (2001-05).