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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-17-4-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, scored each of the last two goals to climb within one on New Year’s Eve, but came up short in a 3-2 setback to the Hartford Wolf Pack (19-8-2-5) at XL Center.
Otto Koivula and Andrew Ladd each beat goaltender Igor Shesterkin with even-strength goals, while Matt Beleskey had two for Hartford. The Wolf Pack scored three times in the first period, which proved to be the difference.
The Sound Tigers fell to 5-11-2-0 on the road this season and ended 2019 in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, four points behind the sixth-place Charlotte Checkers and eight points out of a playoff spot.
Beleskey netted the first of three straight goals for the Wolf Pack at 8:58 of the opening frame to make it 1-0. Phil Di Giuseppe directed a diagonal, cross-ice pass to Beleskey at the back post, where he failed to get an initial shot past Bridgeport’s starter Jared Coreau. The puck trickled below the goal line and Beleskey tracked it down, before banking a shot off the backside of Coreau’s right leg and in.
Fifty-one seconds later, Darren Raddysh made it 2-0 with his fourth goal of the season. He gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone, crossed the Bridgeport blue line, and angled a pass to himself down the right wing. With speed, Raddysh neared the goal line and fired a wrist shot through a tight opening for the unassisted tally.
Beleskey’s second of the period came at the 18:28 mark when he capitalized on a rebound for a power-play goal. With Koivula in the box for tripping, Yegor Rykov guided a blast towards the net from the deep slot and Beleskey finished the second chance for his ninth goal of the season.
The Sound Tigers got one back in the final 17 seconds of the period courtesy of Koivula’s third goal of the season. Nick Schilkey came down the right wing and zipped a pass to the slot, creating chaos between the circles. Seth Helgeson and Ryan Bourque each touched the puck before Koivula’s forehand shot from the left hash marks went underneath Shesterkin at 19:43.
Hartford outshot Bridgeport 8-3 in the second period, but rookie Jakub Skarek stood tall with eight saves in relief of Coreau. The middle frame was scoreless on both sides and the Sound Tigers consistently gained momentum as the third period progressed. Ladd’s sixth goal in five games made it 3-2 at the 14:09 mark when he deflected Sebastian Aho’s long shot from the blue line, putting the Sound Tigers within striking distance.
However, Shesterkin was perfect the rest of the way en route to his 14th win this season – second among all AHL netminders. Shesterkin also leads the league in goals-against-average (1.98).
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Skarek made 15 saves on 15 shots in 38:27 of a no decision, while Shesterkin made 18 saves.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers continue a season-long, five-game road trip on Friday with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Binghamton Devils at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
Sound Tigers season tickets and flex plans are on sale now for the 2019-20 campaign, offering the greatest savings and ultimate flexibility of all ticket packages. Pick between a full-season, 20-game, or 10-game plan and you'll also be entitled to exclusive benefits, including the ticket holder exchange policy. Lock in your seats today by contacting Brad Dworin at 203-345-4813 or via [email protected].
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]. Follow the action all season long via www.soundtigers.com or by “liking” the Sound Tigers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.