Sound Tigers Face Bruins in Home-and-HomeApr 5, 2019
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (40-22-6-3), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, can clinch a spot in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs one of three ways Friday as they open a home-and-home series against the Providence Bruins (35-24-8-3) at Dunkin' Donuts Center. The Sound Tigers can punch their ticket with (1) a win against Providence, (2) a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton regulation loss against Binghamton, or (3) one point against Providence and an overtime/ shootout loss for the Penguins. Following tonight’s game, the Sound Tigers and Bruins will rematch at 7 p.m. Saturday at Webster Bank Arena.
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LAST TIME OUT
Bridgeport suffered a 3-1 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Tuesday morning, despite Jeff Kubiak's ninth goal of the season. Grant Hutton also earned his first professional point (assist) as Bridgeport finished its season-long, eight-game homestand at Webster Bank Arena. It was just the seventh regulation setback for the Sound Tigers at home this season (24-7-3-2).
Saturday’s game is the final weekend home game of the regular season, which features “Marvel Night” at Webster Bank Arena. Spider-Man, Captain America, Ant-Man and Black Panther will all be in attendance to meet fans and take pictures throughout the game, beginning when doors open at 6 p.m. For just $35, get a ticket to the game, one (1) movie voucher valid at any Bow Tie Cinemas to see Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, one (1) autographed Sound Tigers trading card sheet, and early entry to meet the characters beginning at 5 p.m. Click here for tickets and more details!
TIGERS VS. BRUINS
Friday's game marks the 11th of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bruins this season, and the final matchup in Rhode Island. Bridgeport is 6-3-1-0 against Providence this year, but winless in regulation in five trips to Dunkin' Donuts Center (2-3-0-0). However, the Sound Tigers earned a 5-4 overtime victory in their last head-to-head tilt on Feb. 22, led by Mitch Vande Sompel's first career OT-winner at "The Dunk." Tanner Fritz (two goals, seven assists) and Michael Dal Colle (five goals, three assists) lead the Sound Tigers against the Bruins this season, but both players have been recalled by the Islanders and are not available for Bridgeport tonight. Six of the first 10 meetings have gone past regulation.
VIEW FROM PROVIDENCE
The fourth-place Bruins are in a playoff by just three points with six games left in the regular season. The gap has tightened over the last few weeks as Providence has gone 5-3-1-1 over its last 10 games, including a 2-1 loss to the Hershey Bears in last outing on Saturday. Lee Stempniak scored his sixth goal in 15 AHL games this season just 2:15 into the contest, but the Bears answered twice in the third period. Between the pipes, Zane McIntyre made 17 saves on 19 shots and now sits eighth among AHL netminders with a 2.43 goals-against-average in 42 games. Dan Vladar is 18th with a 2.67 goals-against-average in 29 contests.
FIRST-ROUND PICK MAKES DEBUT
Highly-touted prospect Oliver Wahlstrom made his pro debut on Tuesday and registered one shot on goal, although several others were close but got deflected in front. The Islanders’ 11th-overall pick in June started the game on Brent Thompson’s top line with Matt Lorito and Jeff Kubiak, but lines were mixed up midway through the contest. The 18-year-old had 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 36 games with Boston College earlier this season and also notched four points (two goals, two assists) in seven games during the 2018 World Junior Championships (Team USA). He signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders (begins next season) on March 28 and agreed to terms on an amateur tryout agreement with the Sound Tigers last Friday.
OFFENSE COOLS OFF
The Sound Tigers have scored two goals or less in each of their last four games – tied for the longest such streak this season. Three of those four games have resulted in one or no goals scored. Bridgeport is 32-4-3-1 when recording at least three goals in a contest this season and 8-18-3-2 when collecting two goals or less. The club is 19th out of 31 AHL teams in goals per game (3.01).
Steve Bernier leads all active AHL players in shooting percentage (24.5%)… Otto Koivula is tied for fifth among AHL rookies with 18 goals and tied for 10th in scoring (43 points)… Sebastian Aho is tied for 12th among AHL defensemen with 41 points (eight goals, 33 assists)… Ben Holmstrom was named Bridgeport’s 2018-19 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year… It’s the first time he’s won the prestigious honor… Bridgeport can clinch home-ice advantage in the first round by Saturday with two wins (at least one not by shootout) and two Hershey regulation losses... Robert "Bobo" Carpenter could make his professional debut this weekend after signing an amateur tryout with the Sound Tigers last week.
NHL: New York Islanders (47-27-7) - Next: Saturday at Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET)
ECHL: Worcester Railers (30-28-7-4) - Next: Friday vs. Maine Mariners (7:15 p.m. ET)
About the Bridgeport Sound Tigers