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THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (4-10-3-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, face three Atlantic Division opponents in a three-day span this weekend, beginning Friday with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Providence Bruins in Rhode Island. The series then shifts to Webster Bank Arena for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against the Hershey Bears (7 p.m.) and Springfield Thunderbirds (3 p.m.), respectively.
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LAST TIME OUT
Bridgeport is coming off of its first trip to Canada this season, where the club collected one point in two games last weekend. The Sound Tigers fell in overtime on Friday, 4-3 to the Belleville Senators, and suffered a 3-0 loss to the Laval Rocket on Saturday. Despite the results, goaltenders Christopher Gibson and Jared Coreau both played very well and will look to help the Sound Tigers bounce back this weekend. In addition, defenseman Sebastian Aho recorded two assists last weekend and now leads the team with 10 points (2g, 8a) in 18 games.
TIGERS VS. BRUINS
Friday's game marks the fourth of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bruins (9-7-0-2) this season, and the second of six in Rhode Island. Bridgeport is 1-2-0-0 against Providence this season following a 2-0 shutout at Dunkin' Donuts Center 11 days ago. Christopher Gibson made 32 saves for his second blank sheet of the year and his ninth as a Sound Tiger, while Simon Holmstrom and Arnaud Durandeau each beat Max Lagace. The Bruins are looking to snap a four-game winless in regulation streak tonight, with their only victory during that span coming last Friday against division-leading Hartford (4-3 shootout win). Jack Studnicka is currently tied for second among AHL rookies in scoring with 13 points (6g, 7a), and tied for second among rookies in goals as well. Teammate Alex Petrovic is tied for fourth among league defensemen with 13 points (2g, 11a).
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Saturday’s game will be the first of six meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bears (8-6-2-2) this season, and the first of three at Webster Bank Arena. It’s also their first matchup since the opening round of the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs, in which Hershey won in five games. The Bears are coming off of a 2-1 win against the Charlotte Checkers last Saturday and have an entire week off before facing Bridgeport. Mike Sgarbossa leads Hershey in scoring with 14 points (7g, 7a) in 17 games, but he was recalled by the Washington Capitals last week and may not be available for the Bears this weekend. Meanwhile, former Islander Matt Moulson has 11 points (5g, 6a) in 18 games.
TIGERS VS. T-BIRDS
Sunday’s matinee matchup will be the fourth of 12 contests between the Sound Tigers and Thunderbirds (11-7-0-0) this season, and the first of three straight in a six-day span. Bridgeport is 1-2-0-0 against Springfield this year, but the Sound Tigers earned a 1-0 win on Nov. 6 with a 21-save shutout from Christopher Gibson at home. Forward Owen Tippett is one of Springfield’s hottest young players, and he currently leads all AHL rookies in goals (8) and is tied for second in points (13). Meanwhile, goaltender Chris Driedger enters the weekend leading the league in save percentage (.942), third in saves (372) and third in goals-against-average (1.93).
SHOOTING WITH PRECISION
20-year-old Islanders prospect Arnaud Durandeau has only placed eight shots on target this season, but three of them have found the back of the net (37.5% shooting percentage). That conversion rate leads all AHL rookies and is tied for second in the league overall. In fact, Durandeau scored on his first professional shot (in his debut) on Oct. 11 at Charlotte and had goals in back-to-back games on Nov. 11 at Providence and Nov. 15 at Belleville. He was selected in the sixth round (165th overall) by the Isles in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Andrew Ladd cleared waivers last Friday and was loaned to the Sound Tigers, joining the team in Belleville for that night's contest. Ladd scored for the second straight game after ending his five-game conditioning loan with a goal against Belleville on Nov. 10. He has two goals in eight games with Bridgeport this season – the most games he’s played in an AHL season since 2005-06 (Lowell Lock Monsters).
CRUISING THE ATLANTIC
Each of the Sound Tigers' next six games will feature Atlantic Division opponents, including three straight against the Springfield Thunderbirds this Sunday through next Friday. Bridgeport is 4-7-2-1 against the Atlantic teams this season, but 3-1-0-0 in its last four matchups.
Christopher Gibson is one of just eight goalies to post multiple shutouts this season… Gibson is also in the top 12 in goals-against-average (2.23)… Andrew Ladd, Matt Lorito, Simon Holmstrom and Arnaud Durandeau are the four Sound Tigers to have scored in back-to-back games this season... Sebastian Aho is tied for 14th among AHL defenseman with 10 points (2g, 8a) in 18 games... Bode Wilde made his professional debut last Saturday in Laval, just outside of his hometown of Montreal... Wilde missed the preseason and the first 17 games this season with a lower-body injury before making his highly-anticipated debut... Steve Bernier has missed each of the last nine games with a lower-body injury (hasn't played this month).
NHL: New York Islanders (16-3-1) - Next: Saturday at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (4-9-0-0) - Next: Sunday vs. Adirondack Thunder, 1:35 p.m. ET