Christopher Gibson made 42 saves and four different players had a multi-point performance as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-1-1-0), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, earned their first win of the season, 4-2, against the defending Calder Cup champion Charlotte Checkers (1-2-0-0) are Bojangles Coliseum on Friday.
Jeff Kubiak (game-winning goal), Matt Lorito and Kieffer Bellows each scored once and added an assist, while Travis St. Denis collected two helpers.
Charlotte struck first for the third time in as many games following a lengthy banner-raising ceremony that honored their 2019 Calder Cup title. With the building already buzzing, Thomas Hickey was called for tripping to send the Checkers to the power play and Eetu Luostarinen slammed home a centering feed past Gibson’s blocker. Luostarinen drove to the net and connected with Morgan Geekie’s pass for his first North American goal, a power-play strike, at 5:56 of the first period.
Lorito answered late in the opening frame with his third goal in as many games to begin the season. Kubiak created the chance by turning defenseman Gustav Forsling inside out through the left circle and finding Lorito in the slot. The fifth-year forward finished the play with a one-time shot that beat Alex Nedeljkovic’s blocker at the 18:27 mark.
Sebastian Aho’s second-period goal gave the Sound Tigers their first lead of the night, a brilliant turnaround shot from above the right circle. Bridgeport circled the puck in the offensive zone and Bellows found St. Denis to set up Aho. The defenseman skated back towards the blue line before quickly steering a shot on target passed the glove of the Checkers’ goaltender. It was Aho’s first goal of the season at the 16:04 mark.
The see-saw battle continued early in the third period when Forsling camped out at the blue line and wristed a long shot between Gibson’s legs to make it 2-2 at 4:47. The deadlock didn’t last for long though as Kubiak followed up just 41 seconds later with his first goal of the season – a highlight-reel effort approaching the crease. Similar to his first-period setup, Kubiak played the puck between the legs of a defenseman and danced his way to the slot where Nedeljkovic knocked down his forehand try. However, the puck dropped at the right post, allowing Kubiak to wrap around and score the go-ahead goal at the 5:28 mark.
The Sound Tigers solidified their first win of the season with an empty-net tally from Bellows in the final two minutes. Bridgeport finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill.
Charlotte outshot Bridgeport 44-25. Sound Tigers forward Colin McDonald played his 700th AHL game.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers conclude a four-game road trip to begin their 2019-20 season with a 6 p.m. rematch against the defending Calder Cup champion Charlotte Checkers tomorrow night at Bojangles Coliseum. Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 5:45 p.m. Bridgeport's home opener is set for next Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
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]com.
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.