Sound Tigers Clash with Crunch TonightDec 18, 2019
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (10-15-3-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, return to Webster Bank Arena this evening to host the Syracuse Crunch (15-10-2-0) for the first time this season. The Sound Tigers are looking to get back to .500 at home and are hoping to respond after a 5-2 setback to the Hershey Bears on Saturday, in which Kieffer Bellows scored for the third straight game and Andrew Ladd also collected a goal. Jeff Kubiak added his second multi-point game of the season (2a) and Jakub Skarek stopped 13 shots at Giant Center. Bridgeport outshot Hershey 21-8 in the final two periods, but came up short one day after beating the Utica Comets, 4-3, on Friday.
TIGERS VS. CRUNCH
Tonight's contest marks the third of four meetings between the Sound Tigers and Crunch this season, and the first of two in Connecticut. Syracuse leads the series 2-0-0-0 and has scored five goals in each game so far, including a 5-2 result in New York just 11 days ago (Dec. 7). Nick Schilkey and Parker Wotherspoon had Bridgeport's tallies that day, while Alex Volkov had four points (1g, 3a) and Taylor Raddysh had three (2g, 1a). The Sound Tigers went 1-0-0-0 against the Crunch at Webster Bank Arena last season, a 4-1 win on Mar. 24, 2019.
VIEW FROM SYRACUSE
The Crunch complete a four-game road trip this evening after a 4-1 win in Providence last Wednesday and a two-game split in Charlotte, North Carolina over the weekend. On Saturday, Boris Katchouk scored his sixth goal of the season in the final three minutes of regulation to push Syracuse to a 5-4 victory against the reigning champs. Katchouk (1g, 1a), Ross Colton (1g, 1a) and Cameron Gaunce (2a) all had multi-point efforts, while Mike Condon made 22 saves. Gaunce is third among all AHL defensemen with 20 points (3g, 17a) in 26 games, and also tied for third on the Syracuse roster. Meanwhile, 2019 AHL Most Outstanding Rookie Alex Barre-Boulet leads the club with 23 points (10g, 13a) in 26 games.
Kieffer Bellows has six goals in his last eight games, including tallies in three straight heading into tonight's contest. The 21-year-old is tied for the team lead with seven goals this season - even with Matt Lorito - and continues to lead Bridgeport in shots (70). His miraculous second-period goal on Friday stood as the game winner, giving Bellows his first professional game-winning goal in his 99th pro appearance. The Islanders' 19th overall pick in 2016 played his 100th pro last Saturday in Hershey.
SUCCESS AGAINST SYRACUSE
Travis St. Denis scored his first of four goals this season against Syracuse on Nov. 1 and also had the game-winning tally in Bridgeport’s 4-1 win against the Crunch last March. The fourth-year pro is tied for third on the Sound Tigers in scoring this season with 11 points (4g, 7a) in 27 games.
BEAST ON THE BLUE LINE
Sebastian Aho has been one of the Sound Tigers’ offensive leaders all season and continues to rank in the top 15 among AHL defensemen in scoring. His 14 assists are the most on Bridgeport’s roster and only twice this year has he gone more than two games without registering a point. Aho has 16 points (2g, 14a) in 29 games this season after being named to the AHL All-Star Classic each of the past two years.
MADE IN AMERICA
Quincy, Massachusetts native Oliver Wahlstrom was reassigned to USA Hockey by the New York Islanders on Tuesday in preparation for the upcoming World Juniors Camp. Wahlstrom, 19, recorded nine points (3g, 6a) in 20 games with the Sound Tigers this season and also played nine games with the Islanders, including his NHL debut on Oct. 14 against St. Louis. His 57 shots are fourth-most on the Sound Tigers and tied for sixth among all AHL rookies.
Arnaud Durandeau is tied for the league lead in shooting percentage (33.3%)… Christopher Gibson is 10th in the AHL with a 2.40 goals-against-average, but hasn’t played since Nov. 27 due to injury… The Sound Tigers are 8-10-2-1 against Atlantic Division teams and 2-5-1-0 against North Division opponents... John Stevens' shorthanded goal in the second period last Friday was the club's first shorthanded tally of the year... Bobo Carpenter is expected to make his season debut tonight after missing the preseason and first 29 games due to injury.
NHL: New York Islanders (22-8-2) - Next: Thursday at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (8-15-1-0) - Next: Tonight vs. Allen Americans, 7:05 p.m. ET