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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (11-5-2-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned a point for the ninth consecutive game on Friday (7-0-1-1), but suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack (9-9-1-2) on “Teddy Bear Toss” Night at Webster Bank Arena.
Steve Bernier and Chris Bourque each scored a power-play goal in the first 20 minutes, while Vinni Lettieri struck twice in regulation and again in the shootout for Hartford. It was the only tally in a brief, three-round shootout.
Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (6-3-2) was remarkable with a season-high 32 saves on 34 shots, including a tremendous glove-save in overtime. However, it wasn't enough as the Sound Tigers saw their seven-game win streak at home come to an end.
Bernier opened the scoring at 11:20 of the first period and sent the teddy bears flying with his seventh goal of the season, and his team-leading fifth on the power play. With Boo Nieves in the box for hooking, Travis St. Denis launched a shot on target that Bellows tipped in front, creating a scramble in the crease. Wolf Pack netminder Dustin Tokarski made an initial save, but Bernier found the second chance and backhanded home the rebound to trigger the teddy bears.
Each of the stuffed animals collected will be donated to the Connecticut Education Foundation's Holiday Gift-Giving Project over the next several weeks. They will be given to local children in need this holiday season.
Bourque doubled Bridgeport's advantage less than three minutes later with another power-play tally. Following an interference penalty assessed to Rob O'Gara, Sebastian Aho directed a pass to Bourque on the right side, where the veteran hammered a one-timer short side and just past Tokarski's reaching glove. It was Bourque's fifth goal of the season at the 13:28 mark.
Lettieri and the Wolf Pack chipped away in the middle frame when the second-year forward made it 2-1 at the 15:16 mark. With Parker Wotherspoon in the box for tripping, John Gilmour fed the puck to Lettieri who beat Gibson's blocker for his second goal in as many games, just six seconds into the man advantage.
Devon Toews took a hooking penalty shortly after, which gave Hartford an opportunity to tie the game, but instead it was Bridgeport that nearly regained its two-goal advantage. Scott Eansor received two separate breakaway opportunities using his speed and grit at the blue line, but he couldn't beat Tokarski for the shorthanded marker.
After both teams exchanged chances in the third period, including 61 seconds of unsuccessful five-on-three time for the Sound Tigers, Lettieri evened the game at 2-2 with his goaltender on the bench in the final two minutes. Tokarski was pulled with 1:51 remaining and Lettieri scored his second of the night shortly after when he gained a half-step on Kyle Burroughs and gathered a lead pass from Gilmour. He protected it well and went forehand to slip a shot under Gibson at 18:43 of the third.
Following a quick and wild overtime session that saw Mitch Vande Sompel ring a shot off the post and both goaltenders make big-time stops, Lettieri netted the only goal in a three-round shootout to lift Hartford to its fourth win in the last five games.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 2-for-7 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill. Hartford outshot Bridgeport 35-20, while the contest also included one fight when Connor Jones dropped the gloves with Brandon Crawley in the final eight seconds of the first period.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers and Wolf Pack re-new their in-state rivalry for the second time in as many days with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at the XL Center tomorrow night. It will mark the fourth of 10 matchups between the two teams this season (Bridgeport is 1-0-1-1 so far). Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers will boast one of their most extensive and wide-ranging promotional schedules ever for the 2018-19 season. The fan-friendly calendar includes the return of popular themes like Hockey and Hops (Nov. 23 and Mar. 17), Military Appreciation (Jan. 12), Star Wars Night (Jan. 19) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24), while other new headliners include Holiday Gift Weekend (Dec. 15-16) and a revamped Teddy Bear Toss (Nov. 23).
For additional details or to reserve a group outing for any giveaway or theme night, please call the Sound Tigers' front office at (203) 345-2300 ext 7.
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]