The Bridgeport Report: Week 16Jan 20, 2020
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (15-23-4-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, split a home-and-home series with the Providence Bruins last weekend, highlighted by a 2-1 win on the road Friday night. The Sound Tigers will face two more division rivals this weekend prior to the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic.
Islanders prospect Jared Coreau made a season-high 43 saves between the pipes on Friday in one of his best results of the year, backstopping the Sound Tigers to a hard-fought victory at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Rhode Island. Otto Koivula and Oliver Wahlstrom each scored, while Pavel Shen had the only Providence tally to break up Coreau’s (7-11-1) shutout bid in the third period. Koivula’s power-play goal was his second game-winner this season and also his third on the man advantage, tied for the most on the team with Kieffer Bellows.
On Saturday, Mason Jobst’s first career power-play tally kept the Sound Tigers neck-and-neck with the Bruins in their rematch at Webster Bank Arena, but Providence forward Brett Ritchie scored twice in a 3-1 setback. Trent Frederic also posted three points (one goal, two assists) and Sound Tigers rookie goaltender Jakub Skarek (3-9-1) made a North American career-high 32 saves on 35 shots. It dropped the Sound Tigers to 2-4-0-0 in six meetings against Providence this season and snapped Bridgeport’s two-game win streak overall. Bridgeport continues to sit eighth in the Atlantic Division standings.
The Sound Tigers return to the road this weekend with a Friday-Saturday slate of games against the first-place Hartford Wolf Pack (23-10-4-5) and fifth-place Springfield Thunderbirds (23-18-2-0), respectively. Fans unable to travel up I-91 can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed puck drop.
The week ahead:
Friday, Jan. 24 at Hartford (7:15 p.m.): The Nutmeg State rivalry heats back up on Friday with the sixth of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Wolf Pack this season. It’s also the fourth of six matchups inside the XL Center. Bridgeport is 1-2-2-0 against the Rangers’ affiliate so far and winless on the road (0-1-2-0). They last met in Hartford on New Year’s Eve, in which Otto Koivula and Andrew Ladd each scored in a 3-2 loss. A three-goal first period for the Wolf Pack was just enough to squeeze by.
Saturday, Jan. 25 at Springfield (7:05 p.m.): The Sound Tigers travel to Massachusetts on Saturday night for their final game before the All-Star Break. Bridgeport is 4-4-1-0 in nine outings against the Florida Panthers’ affiliate, but Springfield has won three straight meetings dating back to Dec. 20. The T-Birds grabbed a 4-0 win in their last tilt on Jan. 10.
News and Notes:
Mr. 500: Brent Thompson is slated to work his 500th game as an AHL head coach this Friday in Hartford - each of those contests behind the Sound Tigers bench. Thompson is in his seventh season as Bridgeport’s bench boss and ninth season in the Islanders organization. He served as an assistant coach on Long Island from 2012-14. In the AHL, Thompson is 246-203-50 in 499 career games and became the Sound Tigers’ all-time winningest head coach on Jan. 28, 2017 with his 134th victory. He was hired to coach the Sound Tigers on June 28, 2011 following two seasons with the Alaska Aces (ECHL), where he won the Kelly Cup in 2011.
You Otto Believe it: Otto Koivula scored again last Friday and now has 10 points (5g, 5a) in his last 10 games, including his first North American hat trick on Jan. 12 against Laval. Koivula had two goals in his first 19 games of the season, but has five in his last seven AHL games. Koivula ended last season tied for second on the Sound Tigers in scoring (46 points) and ranked fourth among AHL rookies in goals (21). He was recalled by the Islanders for the first time in his career on Oct. 30 and made his NHL debut on Nov. 16 at Philadelphia. He also helped New York defeat Detroit, 8-2, last Tuesday.
Back on the Board: Islanders prospects Oliver Wahlstrom and Mason Jobst each snapped lengthy goal droughts last weekend against Providence. Wahlstrom’s tally on Friday was his first in 16 games (since Nov. 15 at Belleville) and Jobst scored his first in 11 games (since Nov. 27 at Springfield). Wahlstrom also missed several weeks during that span while competing in the 2020 World Junior Championships with Team USA, where he racked up five points (one goal, four assists) in five games. He ranks 10th on the Sound Tigers in scoring with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 25 games.
Quick Hits: Seth Helgeson is the only player to compete in all 43 games this season... The Sound Tigers have scored a power-play goal in four straight and also in five of their last six games... Kieffer Bellows leads the team in goals (15), points (22), shots (110) and is tied for the club lead in power-play goals (three)... Jared Coreau has won back-to-back games for the second time this season... The Sound Tigers have a chance to win back-to-back road games for the first time this season when they face Hartford this Friday... Christopher Gibson backed up in both games last weekend, but still hasn't played since Nov. 27 due to injury.
Goals: Kieffer Bellows (15)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (19)
Points: Kieffer Bellows (22)
Plus/Minus: Josh Ho-Sang (+3)
Penalty Minutes: Travis St. Denis (61)
Power-Play Goals: Kieffer Bellows, Otto Koivula (3)
Shots: Kieffer Bellows (110)
Wins: Jared Coreau (7)
The New York Islanders (28-15-5) collected three points in five games last week during an extremely busy stretch that was highlighted by an 8-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. Former Sound Tigers forward Brock Nelson scored twice that night (now leads the team with 19 goals) and helped the Islanders strike four times in the first period. However, the Isles also suffered two regulation losses to the New York Rangers, one against the Washington Capitals, and a shootout setback to the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Sound Tiger Anders Lee got his 15th of the year against the ‘Canes on Sunday, which forced an eventual eight-round shootout on the road. The Islanders continue to rank third in the Metropolitan Division entering a 7 p.m. matchup against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight.
The ECHL’s Worcester Railers (16-23-2-0) earned a 3-2 overtime win against the Reading Royals yesterday afternoon, backstopped by 42 saves from Evan Buitenhuis. However, the club also dropped a trio of road games last week and remained in sixth place in the North Division standings. Islanders prospect Arnaud Durandeau scored once on his 21st birthday against the Maine Mariners last Tuesday, and now has five points (three goals, two assists) in seven ECHL games. Meanwhile, Nic Pierog leads the Railers in goals (17) and co-leads the club in points (29). Worcester returns from the 2020 ECHL All-Star Break next weekend and ends a five-game road trip on Friday with a 7:15 p.m. rematch against Maine.