The Bridgeport Report: Week 22Mar 5, 2019
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (35-18-5-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, extended their win streak to a season-high seven games and pushed their point streak to 10 in a row (9-0-1-0) with a two-game sweep in Pennsylvania last weekend. The Sound Tigers had not won seven straight games since February 2017.
Four players recorded at least two points and goaltenders Jeremy Smith and Christopher Gibson both earned wins, as Bridgeport opened its second-longest road trip of the season (five games). The second-place club is within six points of the Charlotte Checkers for the AHL’s top spot.
Following a five-day hiatus since their last game on Feb. 24, the Sound Tigers secured a 4-1 win against the Hershey Bears on Saturday night at Giant Center. Gibson (18-9-4) was spectacular in net and made a season-high 37 saves, backstopping his seventh victory in as many decisions since Feb. 5. Steve Bernier, Tanner Fritz, Michael Dal Colle and Travis St. Denis all scored on Hershey’s Ilya Samsonov, while Dal Colle and St. Denis added one assist each.
Less than 24 hours later, Matt Lorito scored twice for the first time with Bridgeport and Smith (17-9-3) nearly obtained his first shutout of the season in a 3-1 victory against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at PPL Center on Sunday. Bernier collected his team-leading 20th goal of the season and has now scored in three straight games, while Tanner Fritz notched two assists. The only goal Bridgeport allowed came in the final 58 seconds, as the Sound Tigers completed their six-game season series against Lehigh Valley at 3-2-1-0.
Bridgeport has not won eight straight games since Jan. 15, 2017 - Feb. 3, 2017 and will look to accomplish that in its next outing on Friday. The Sound Tigers continue their road trip with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against Buffalo’s affiliate, the Rochester Americans (35-18-3-2) at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. Following a day off on Saturday, the Sound Tigers will face the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies (30-19-6-3) at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The week ahead:
Friday, Mar. 8 at Rochester (7:05 p.m.): The Sound Tigers face the Amerks for the final time this season with their second of two trips to Blue Cross Arena. Bridgeport is winless in three tries against Rochester this season (0-1-1-1), including a 5-4 shootout loss in their last meeting on Jan. 2. Two of the first three matchups have gone past regulation and Travis St. Denis leads Bridgeport in the season series with two goals.
Sunday, Mar. 10 at Toronto Marlies (4 p.m.): Bridgeport and Toronto will meet for the first time this season to conclude the weekend on Sunday. It’s the Sound Tigers’ only trip to Coca-Cola Coliseum this year, and the first of two meetings in 2018-19. Bridgeport split its two-game series against Toronto last season (1-1-0-0), including a 1-0 shootout win on Jan. 21, 2018 at Webster Bank Arena, which saw shutouts from both Kristers Gudlevskis (BRI) and Garrett Sparks (TOR) through 65 minutes.
News and Notes:
Road Warriors: The Sound Tigers are currently on a three-game win streak and four-game point streak away from Webster Bank Arena – both season highs. Bridgeport has outscored opponents 12-6 during its win streak and is two games above .500 on the road for the first time this season (15-13-3-1). The club hasn’t won four straight games away from home ice since Feb. 28, 2018 - Mar. 9, 2018.
Lorito Leaving His Mark: Matt Lorito has 10 points (four goals, six assists) and four multi-point outings in his first seven games with Bridgeport. The 28-year-old missed the first 51 games this season due to injury since signing a two-year deal with the New York Islanders in July, but has made an immediate impact. His two-goal performance on Sunday was his first since Feb. 9, 2018 with the Grand Rapids Griffins and his first game-winner since Feb. 24, 2018.
Bourque Keeps Burying: Sound Tigers leading scorer Chris Bourque carries a team-best five-game point streak into this weekend’s action (three goals, two assists) following a helper on Sunday. The veteran winger is up to 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 58 games this season, as he attempts to lead his AHL club in scoring for the fourth time in the last five years. Bourque is the AHL’s all-time active leading scorer (23rd all-time) with 738 career points (249 goals, 489 assists) – three points behind Rene Drolet for 22nd place.
The 1-2 Punch: Bridgeport’s goaltending tandem of Christopher Gibson and Jeremy Smith may very well be the best in the AHL right now. Gibson has won seven straight decisions with a 2.22 goals-against-average and .921 save percentage during those games, while Smith has won three straight with a 2.17 goals-against-average and .921 save percentage in that span. Smith’s superb play this season, including a CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month selection (December), earned him a two-way contract with the New York Islanders for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign on Feb. 24.
Quick Hits: Steve Bernier has scored in three straight games for the first time since Oct. 13-20, 2018 and currently ranks third in the AHL in shooting percentage (25.6%)… Bernier is one goal shy of a career high (21 last season) and has 57 total goals with Bridgeport, seventh on the team’s all-time list… Sebastian Aho is tied for seventh among AHL defensemen in points (38) and tied for third among blue-liners in assists (32)… Otto Koivula is tied for seventh among AHL rookies in points (40) and tied for fourth among first-year players in goals (17)… Michael Dal Colle is fifth in the AHL in shooting percentage (24.3%).
Goals: Steve Bernier (20)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (33)
Points: Chris Bourque (46)
Plus/Minus: Otto Koivula (+16)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (109)
Power-play goals: Steve Bernier (9)
Shots: Chris Bourque (138)
Wins: Christopher Gibson (18)
The New York Islanders (37-21-7) suffered back-to-back losses in regulation last weekend for the first time in 2019, and in the process were dethroned from the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders fell to the Washington Capitals on Friday 3-1, before suffering a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday – both games at NYCB Live. Former Sound Tigers Adam Pelech and Tom Kuhnhackl had the only goals for New York, while Anders Lee continues to lead the team in goal-scoring with 22 tallies. Despite those losses, the Islanders also defeated former captain John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday in an emotional 6-1 win. The club continues a five-game homestand tonight with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Ottawa Senators on Long Island.
The ECHL’s Worcester Railers H.C. (25-22-5-4) returned home on Sunday following a seven-game road trip and defeated the Adirondack Thunder, 4-2, at the DCU Center. Former Sound Tiger Yanick Turcotte was named the third star of the afternoon with a fight and one assist, while Ryan Hitchcock also chipped in one assist and now has 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in his last 19 games. Matt Gaudreau had one assist as well and now boasts a four-game point streak. The sixth-place Railers return to action this Wednesday with a 7 p.m. rematch against Adirondack in Glens Falls, N.Y.
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].