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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (11-6-2-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, launched 43 shots on target Saturday night in Hartford, but only Michael Dal Colle beat goaltender Dustin Tokarski in a 3-1 loss to the Wolf Pack (10-9-1-2) in their rematch at the XL Center.
The setback snapped Bridgeport's nine-game points streak and was the club's first regulation loss since Nov 2. Jeremy Smith (5-3-1) made 27 saves, including the denial of a penalty shot in the second period, but saw his personal four-game win streak come to an end.
The Sound Tigers continue to rank second in the Atlantic Division, six points behind the first-place Charlotte Checkers, through 20 games this season.
Scoring chances were plentiful in the opening frame, but both goaltenders were strong and neither team could break the ice before the first intermission. Hartford's Terrence Wallin directed a sharp-angle shot to the crease just 22 seconds in that Smith stopped ahead of the goal line, and it was ultimately reviewed to confirm no-goal. In addition, Scott Eansor was stuffed on a breakaway less than three minutes in and Mike Sislo hit the left post with a long shot late in the opening period.
John Gilmour broke the scoreless tie nearly halfway through the second period when he potted a power-play goal for his sixth point in four games against Bridgeport this year. Following an interference penalty assessed to Devon Toews, Vinni Lettieri swung the puck to Gilmour in the high slot, where he funneled a shot through traffic before the gap closed and netted his sixth tally of the season at the 9:05 mark.
The Wolf Pack nearly doubled their lead at 13:50 when Kieffer Bellows hooked Shawn O'Donnell on a shorthanded breakaway, which led to a penalty shot against Smith. O'Donnell tried a forehand shot from below the hash marks that Smith halted in the crease to keep it 1-0.
However, Holland made it 2-0 just 58 seconds into the third period with the eventual game-winning goal, converting on a five-on-three power play. With Dal Colle in the box for hooking and Chris Bourque guilty of a slash late in the second period, Hartford cashed in when Holland cleaned up a rebound in front that Matt Beleskey created with a heavy drive on target. It was Holland's third goal of the season and team-leading 19th point.
Dal Colle got Bridgeport back to within one nearly two minutes later when he collected his team-best eighth goal of the year. The third-year forward, who was returned on loan by the Islanders earlier in the day, capitalized on a rebound at the doorstep following a long blast from Seth Helgeson above the left circle. Dal Colle now has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 15 AHL games this season after that tally at 3:08 of the third, which made it 2-1.
Shawn St. Amant capped the scoring with his first goal of the season at 4:55 of the final frame. Cole Schneider guided a centering feed to the low slot where St. Amant jammed away and eventually muscled the puck under Smith's pads to make it 3-1.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-7 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport outshot Hartford 43-30, while Tokarski (4-3-1) made 42 saves to backstop the Wolf Pack to their third straight win against the Sound Tigers.
Bridgeport is 1-1-1-1 against Hartford in 2018-19.
The contest also included one fight when Seth Helgeson and Brandon Crawley dropped the gloves at 10:25 of the third period following Crawley's illegal check to the head against Eansor. Helgeson was also handed a 10-minute misconduct, which ended his night early.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers conclude their weekend series tomorrow afternoon with a 3 p.m. puck drop against the Springfield Thunderbirds at Webster Bank Arena. Fans are encouraged to arrive early (doors open at 2 p.m.) and take advantage of 50-cent wings and $5 16oz. beers (drafts or cans) at the Mason's Pub on the upper-level concourse through the end of the first intermission. Fans can also follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 2:45 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).
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]