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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (12-7-2-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, produced 42 shots for the second time in as many visits to MassMutual Center, but suffered a 5-2 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds (11-6-0-2) on Wednesday.
Anthony Greco scored a hat trick for the T-Birds and Samuel Montembeault (8-2-0) made 40 saves, while Michael Dal Colle and Sebastian Aho had the goals for the Sound Tigers. Josh Ho-Sang also assisted on both goals and now leads all active players in the AHL with 18 helpers this season.
The loss was Bridgeport's eighth in a row at MassMutual Center (0-8-0-0), tying a franchise record for the most consecutive setbacks in a visiting venue (Hershey, 2007-11). The Sound Tigers last won in Springfield on Mar. 29, 2017.
Greco began the scoring just 3:10 into the first period with his fifth goal of the season following an icing whistle against Bridgeport. Greco gathered a bouncing puck in the left circle and stayed with it near the hash marks, where he guided a forehand shot past Jeremy Smith's (5-4-1) blocker and in. It was his first goal since Oct. 20 at Laval.
The Thunderbirds continued their efficiency less than nine minutes later and doubled their advantage with Greco's second goal of the night, this time shorthanded. Bobby Farnham was called for interference at 11:07 of the first period and while the penalty was less than 40 seconds old, Travis St. Denis spilled over in the neutral zone, which allowed Greco to skate the other way. He held off Ho-Sang past the blue line and placed a forehand shot under Smith to make it 2-0 at the 11:46 mark.
Dal Colle got Bridgeport back to within one with his ninth tally of the season at 16:14 of the opening frame. During a relentless attack in the T-Birds' zone, Ho-Sang and Kieffer Bellows teamed up at even strength to put the puck on target. Montembeault made a pad save in the crease, but the rebound dropped to the left post where Dal Colle powered it home to make it 2-1. Dal Colle is second on the Sound Tigers in goal-scoring, one behind Steve Bernier's team-leading 10.
The Sound Tigers outshot Springfield 12-10 in the first period and doubled them up in the second, 16-8, but had trouble finishing off chances against Montembeault. A big opportunity was missed near the end of the middle frame when Joel Lowry's holding penalty and Jayce Hawryluk's delay of game minor overlapped by 36 seconds, giving Bridgeport a five-on-three power play. However, the Sound Tigers failed to convert and tie the game.
Following a scoreless second period, Patrick Bajkov put Springfield on top 3-1 at 2:16 of the third. Hawryluk generated a three-on-two rush wheeled the puck down the left wing before slipping a centering pass to the low slot, where Bajkov beat Dal Colle back and pushed home his second goal of the season.
Swift bounces and fast-paced transition rushes continued midway through the third period with each team generating excellent opportunities. Bridgeport capitalized and pulled within two at the 12:43 mark when Aho completed a sequence of nifty passes in Springfield's zone to collect his second goal of the season - and second in as many games.
Mitch Vande Sompel directed a pass to Ho-Sang on the left side, where he slammed on the breaks and abruptly changed directions in the circle. Ho-Sang's flashy move drew several Thunderbirds his direction, which opened up space for Aho on the right side. Ho-Sang's pass was right on the mark and Aho dragged a forehand shot around Montembeault and in.
With the Sound Tigers still trailing by a pair inside of the final four minutes, Brent Thompson elected to pull his goalie for the extra attacker with 3:31 left in regulation. Bridgeport proceeded to maintain tremendous zone time, but recorded few shots, until Paul Thompson sprung Greco the other way for an empty-net tally, which completed his hat trick.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill, while Bridgeport outshot Springfield a whopping 42-29. Smith made 24 saves.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers host the Providence Bruins, Boston's top affiliate, for “ComiCONN Night” this Saturday at Webster Bank Arena (7 p.m.). Experience the thrill of meeting some of the most famous superheroes, plus read comic books, play video games and more! A $25 ticket package is available that includes access to the game, a food voucher valid for one (1) combo of a hot dog, chips and soda/water, and a custom Sound Tigers Superhero Cape! Reserve yours now!
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 ComiCONN Night (Dec. 1), Hockey and Hops (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).
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 [email protected]