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THE STORY COMING IN
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (6-11-3-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, face the Springfield Thunderbirds (12-9-0-0) for the second straight game in a Thanksgiving Eve matchup at MassMutual Center (7:05 p.m. tonight).
The two rivals met just three days ago at Webster Bank Arena, where the Sound Tigers earned a 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. Jared Coreau made a season-high 39 saves and was 83 seconds from his first shutout of the season, while Arnaud Durandeau and Andrew Ladd scored 10 seconds apart early in the opening period. John Stevens added his first goal of the season late in regulation and Kevin Roy had Springfield's only tally. Bridgeport has now won back-to-back contests for the second time this year and will look to push its winning streak to a season-high three games tonight.
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TIGERS VS. T-BIRDS
Tonight's tilt is the fifth of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and T-Birds this season, and the second of six in Massachusetts. It's also the second of three straight matchups against Springfield in a six-day span. The series is currently knotted at 2-2-0-0, with Bridgeport taking each of the last two meetings after Springfield won the first two. The Sound Tigers suffered a 5-1 loss in their first trip to MassMutual Center on Oct. 5, which was the season opener for both teams. Matt Lorito had Bridgeport's only tally that night.
VIEW FROM SPRINGFIELD
The T-Birds are currently tied for third place in the Atlantic Division, knotted with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins through 21 games. The club is just 5-5-0-0 over its last 10 outings after Sunday's 3-1 setback in Bridgeport, which saw Kevin Roy score Springfield's only goal at 18:37 of the third period and 37 saves from Chris Driedger. It was Driedger's third straight loss, but the T-Birds netminder was recalled by Florida on Tuesday and replaced by Sam Montembeault. Chris Driedger leads the AHL in save percentage (.938), ranks sixth in GAA (2.09) and is fifth in minutes played (883). Offensively, the club is led by rookie forward Owen Tippett with eight goals and 15 points in 21 games. He is second among all AHL rookies in goals and third in points. In addition, Tippett has points in eight straight games at home dating back to Oct. 11.
20-year-old rookie Arnaud Durandeau has burst onto the scene this season with four goals on 10 shots to begin his professional career. The Islanders prospect leads all AHL players in shooting percentage (40.0%) and has scored in three of his last five games. Durandeau collected his first pro goal in his debut on Oct. 11 at Charlotte, which also came on his first pro shot. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Draft and signed a three-year entry level deal with the Isles on May 31, 2019. He has five points (4g, 1a) in 10 games with Bridgeport.
LEADING THE WAY
Third-year defenseman Sebastian Aho has six points (6a) in his last seven games and now paces the Sound Tigers in scoring (2g, 10a) through 21 contests. The two-time All-Star is also tied for 10th among all AHL blueliners in points and is tied for seventh in assists.
CRUISING THE ATLANTIC
Christopher Gibson won his 70th career game with Bridgeport on Saturday, passing Kevin Poulin (2010-15) for second place on the team’s all-time list. Gibson is 4-3-3 this season and 14th among all AHL netminders with a 2.44 goals-against-average. He sits 11 victories behind Wade Dubielewicz (81 - 2003-08), who is currently the Sound Tigers’ all-time winningest goalie.
The Sound Tigers are 5-2-0-0 in their last seven games against Atlantic Division opponents… Bridgeport was not shorthanded at all in Saturday’s win, which was just the fifth time in team history… The Sound Tigers are 5-0-0-0 when leading after two periods this year… Andrew Ladd has points in three straight at home (3g, 1a), the longest streak for the team this season.
HOCKEY & HOPS IS FRIDAY!
Due to its overwhelming popularity the past three seasons, the Sound Tigers are once again hosting “Hockey and Hops” this Friday, a pre-game craft beer tasting party featuring local breweries. A $30 ticket package is available that includes access to the pre-game tasting event (4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.), a ticket to the game, and a Sound Tigers tasting sampler glass and koozie. Click here to purchase or to see which breweries will be in attendance.
NHL: New York Islanders (16-4-2) - Next: Tonight at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (4-10-1-0) - Next: Tonight vs. Newfoundland Growlers, 7 p.m. ET