Sound Tigers Kick Off 2020 on the RoadJan 3, 2020
THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-17-4-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, kick off 2020 and continue a five-game road trip this weekend with matchups against the Binghamton Devils (12-17-4-0) and Hershey Bears (18-10-2-3). The three-in-three series begins tonight with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop against Binghamton at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.
LAST TIME OUT
The Sound Tigers are looking to snap a three-game losing streak on the road after a 3-2 setback in regulation to the Hartford Wolf Pack on Tuesday. Otto Koivula and Andrew Ladd each found the back of the net, but a three-goal opening period for Hartford was enough to sink the Sound Tigers. Both Jared Coreau (five saves) and Jakub Skarek (15 saves) saw time in the crease, and Sebastian Aho extended his point streak to a team-high four games with an assist.
TIGERS VS. DEVILS
Tonight's matchup is the first of two meetings between the Sound Tigers and Devils this season, and the only contest in southern New York. The series was split 1-1-0-0 in 2018-19, with the Sound Tigers earning a 7-3 at Webster Bank Arena on Nov. 7, 2018 and suffering a 3-2 loss on Jan. 5, 2019. Otto Koivula scored for the fifth straight game that day, while Travis St. Denis had Bridgeport's only other tally. In fact, St. Denis had three goals in two games against the Devils last season.
VIEW FROM BINGHAMTON
The Devils are on a three-game win streak and ended 2019 with a 5-3 victory against the Syracuse Crunch on New Year's Eve at home. Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian each scored once and added an assist, while Brandon Baddock recorded a game-high three points (three assists). However, Binghamton continues to rank last in the North Division and Eastern Conference. They are one point behind Lehigh Valley and three points behind the Sound Tigers. The club is led by veteran Ben Street with 32 points (12g, 20a) in 32 games, which is also tied for fourth among all AHL players. Baddock is second in the league in penalty minutes (68).
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Bridgeport will face Hershey in a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader this weekend with both games taking place at Giant Center in Chocolate Town. The series is knotted at 1-1-0-0 following a 3-2 victory on Nov. 23 and a 5-2 loss in Hershey on Dec. 14. The Bears are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, winning 10 of their last 11 games including a nine-game win streak from Dec. 1 through Dec. 27. Mike Sgarbossa paces the team with 32 points (11g, 21a) in 31 games and is also tied for fourth in the AHL’s scoring race. Meanwhile, former Islander Matt Moulson has a team-leading 12 goals this season and both Vitek Vanecek (eighth) and Pheonix Copley (20th) rank inside the top 20 among AHL netminders in goals-against-average.
BELLOWS NAMED CCM/AHL PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Kieffer Bellows has 12 goals in his last 14 games and nine in his last nine, including his first pro hat trick last Saturday. He had 10 goals in 11 December contests and was recognized by the league on Thursday by being named CCM/AHL Player of the Month for the first time in his career. Bellows has scored in six straight home games dating back to Nov. 29 (the longest active and overall streak in the AHL) and the NY Islanders' 19th overall pick in 2016 leads Bridgeport in goals (13), shots (87), and ranks third in points (16).
UP THE "LADDER"
Two-time Stanley Cup champion Andrew Ladd scored his 10th goal of the season on Tuesday and now has six goals in his last five AHL games. He leads the Sound Tigers with four game-winners and is tied for the team lead in power-play goals (two). The NHL veteran played his 998th professional game on Tuesday and will likely hit #1,000 tomorrow in Hershey. He has played 947 NHL contests with the Islanders, Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Jets and Thrashers (537 points) - including one appearance with the Isles this season. At the AHL level, Ladd has 37 points (23g, 14a) in 51 games dating back to 2005.
RIGHT WHERE HE LEFT OFF
Fourth-year forward Josh Ho-Sang has earned a point in three straight games (three assists) since joining the Sound Tigers earlier this month. He reported to the club on Dec. 17 and has helped Bridgeport to a 2-0-1-0 record since his season debut on Dec. 21. Ho-Sang ended the 2018-19 regular season with six points in the final six games (1g, 5a) and had one goal and one assist in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. He agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Islanders on Aug. 19, 2019.
Oliver Wahlstrom had four points (2g, 2a) in seven games at the 2020 World Junior Championships, helping the Team USA advance to the quarterfinals before falling to Finland, 1-0, on Thursday... Simon Holmstrom returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing 13 games due to injury... Arnaud Durandeau leads the AHL in shooting percentage (31.3%, 5-for-16)... Bridgeport is 3-5-1-0 against North Division teams... The Sound Tigers are being outscored 66-37 on the road this season.
NHL: New York Islanders (25-11-3) - Next: Tomorrow at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (10-19-2-0) - Next: Tonight at Reading Royals, 7 p.m. ET