The 2020-21 American Hockey League season is officially underway and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (0-2-0-0), proud affiliate of the New York Islanders, began their 24-game schedule with a pair of road matchups this past weekend. Bobo Carpenter, Samuel Bolduc and Cole Coskey each found the back of net to pace Bridgeport’s offense, but the Sound Tigers fell in both games against their Atlantic Division rivals.
Friday’s season opener ended with a 4-1 loss to the Providence Bruins at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. Carpenter had Bridgeport’s lone tally to keep things close midway through the third period, but Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman made 26 saves to win his professional debut. Jakub Skarek made 27 saves on 30 shots for the Sound Tigers.
Forty-eight hours later, Bolduc and Coskey each collected their first professional goal in a 5-2 setback to the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center. The Sound Tigers led by two in the middle frame and carried a one-goal advantage into the second intermission, but Hartford answered with five straight tallies in its first game. Bolduc finished with a goal on his only shot and an even rating, while Coskey had a goal on two shots and a plus-two rating in his pro debut. Skarek stopped 21 of the 26 shots he faced.
The Sound Tigers won’t play again until Saturday afternoon when they host Providence for the first time this season in their 2021 home opener at Webster Bank Arena. Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. and fans can follow all of the live action via AHLTV or the Sound Tigers Radio Network, beginning with the pre-game show at 12:45 p.m.
The Week Ahead
Saturday, Feb. 13 vs. Providence: The Sound Tigers face Boston’s top affiliate for the second of 12 matchups this season, and the first of six inside Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport went 1-3-0-0 against Providence at home last season.
Bobo Gets Bridgeport’s First: Bobo Carpenter picked up right where he left off last March and scored the Sound Tigers’ first goal of the season on Friday with a redirection on a shot from Mitch Vande Sompel. Carpenter had two goals in his last three games of the 2019-20 campaign and now has three goals in his last five. He had just four goals in 28 games last season following an injury that kept him out until December, but he’s off to a great start in 2020-21 wearing #14 on his sweater – the same jersey number he wore for four seasons at Boston University.
Bolduc Brings the Heat: Rookie defenseman Samuel Bolduc has grabbed the attention of Islanders fans ever since he was selected 57th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, but after he debuted with the Sound Tigers last weekend, he’s gotten even more people talking. The 6’4, 212-pound blue-liner made his professional debut on Friday and then scored his first pro goal on Sunday with long slapshot from the point, reminiscent of a Ryan Pulock blast. Bolduc played each of the last three-plus years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), recording 94 points (22 goals, 72 assists) in 189 games with Blainville-Boisbriand and Sherbrooke.
Youth Movement: Six players made their professional debuts last weekend including forwards Felix Bibeau, Cole Coskey, Blade Jenkins, Kyle MacLean and Brett Neumann, who each turned pro out of major junior hockey. Along with Samuel Bolduc, Coskey also scored his first pro goal in Sunday’s loss at Hartford, while Bibeau and rookie Erik Brown each earned their first pro point with an assist on Bolduc’s goal. The Sound Tigers’ season-opening roster includes 15 AHL rookies and an average age of 25.4-years-old.
Islanders Reassign Two from Taxi Squad: The New York Islanders announced Wednesday that forwards Otto Koivula and Dmytro Timashov have been reassigned from the taxi squad to the Sound Tigers. Koivula has not played a game in the NHL this season after making 12 appearances with the Islanders in 2019-20, while Timashov played one game, his Islanders debut, on Jan. 31st at Philadelphia. Timashov was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 12, 2020 for future considerations.
Quick Hits: Simon Holmstrom has four assists in his last five AHL games dating back to March… Mitch Vande Sompel’s assist on Friday was his first point since a two-goal performance in the 2018-19 season finale at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Vande Sompel missed the entire 2019-20 season due to injury… A.J. Greer made his Sound Tigers debut and also played his 200th AHL game on Friday.
Across the Sound: The New York Islanders (5-4-2) have won back-to-back games and have points in four straight following a 2-0 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Former Sound Tigers Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas each scored 2:05 apart to break a scoreless tie in the third period, while Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves to become the first Islanders goalie with two shutouts against the Rangers in the same season. The Isles return to action on Thursday with a 7 p.m. puck drop against the Pittsburgh Penguins at home.