Simon Holmstrom scored his first North American goal and Matt Lorito had two points (one goal, one assist) on Saturday, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-7-2-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, fell to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4-1-1-3) at Webster Bank Arena, 3-2.
The setback extended Bridgeport’s winless streak to eight games for the first time since 2015, while Lehigh Valley improved its unbeaten in regulation stretch to eight in a row (4-0-1-3).
The contest was tight from start to finish and neither team led by more than one tally. Kyle Criscuolo put the visitors on top late in the opening period when he cashed in on a penalty shot, created by a takeaway and race into the Sound Tigers’ zone. Criscuolo got in loose on Christopher Gibson and was tripped up by a sliding Mike Cornell, which drew the penalty-shot opportunity that he converted through the five-hole.
Bridgeport bounced back in the second period and got its offense buzzing, outshooting the Phantoms 11-4. A takeaway at the 5:06 mark developed into a two-on-one rush between Matt Lorito and Andrew Ladd, and Lorito finished the play for his team-leading fourth goal of the season. He had possession on the left wing and looked off Ladd, before dragging and shooting past Jean-Francois Berube to make it 1-1.
Holmstrom followed that up with a power-play goal at the 10:32 mark to put the Sound Tigers out front for the first time. David Kase was handed a minor penalty for a check to the head, and Holmstrom made it 2-1 when he settled Lorito’s pass, delayed and beat Berube’s glove for his first goal since being selected 23rd overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Morgan Frost knotted the game at 2-2 by extending his personal point streak to a team-high six games at 16:24 of the second. Frost tipped Mark Friedman’s long slap shot in front of Gibson for his third goal of the season.
The contest remained deadlocked until 9:16 of the third period when Nic Aube-Kubel netted his third goal of the year, which provided to be the difference maker. A screen was provided in front of Gibson and a deflection was made from the left circle on a quick shot from Tyler Wotherspoon.
Late in the game, Tyler’s younger brother, Parker Wotherspoon, had a golden chance at a rebound from the left point, but his shot was denied by the outstretched leg of Berube to keep it 3-2.
Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill. Gibson (1-1-2) made 19 saves in his first appearance since Oct. 19.
The Sound Tigers outshot the Phantoms 28-22 – the first time they’ve outshot an opponent this season.