The Bridgeport Report: Week 23Mar 12, 2019
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (36-19-5-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, made the long trek to Rochester and Toronto last weekend and split a two-game series against North Division opponents. It continued a five-game road trip for the second-place Sound Tigers, who currently sit six points behind the Charlotte Checkers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Bridgeport carried a seven-game win streak into Friday’s tilt against the Rochester Americans, but saw that season-best stretch come to an end in a 5-0 loss at Blue Cross Arena. It was just the second time the Sound Tigers had been blanked this season and was Bridgeport’s first regulation loss since Feb. 8 (snapping a 10-game point streak). Amerks goaltender Scott Wedgewood made 27 saves for his fourth shutout of the year, while the Sound Tigers completed their season series with Rochester 0-2-1-1.
Following a practice day on Saturday, the Sound Tigers returned to action, and the win column, Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 shootout victory against the Toronto Marlies at Coca-Cola Coliseum. Jeremy Smith was lights out, making a season-high 40 saves between regulation and overtime, while Jeff Kubiak and Josh Ho-Sang each scored a second-period goal. Rookie prospect Otto Koiuvla put the cherry on top with his first shootout-winner in the AHL, as Bridgeport pocketed its league-leading 15th win past regulation (15-7).
The Sound Tigers finish their five-game road trip this Saturday with a 7 p.m. matchup against the third-place Hershey Bears (33-22-2-4) at Giant Center. The doubleheader weekend shifts back to Webster Bank Arena on Sunday for the club’s first home game since Feb. 24, featuring a 5 p.m. tilt against the seventh-place Springfield Thunderbirds (26-24-7-5).
The week ahead:
Saturday, Mar. 16 at Hershey (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers make their final trip to Chocolate Town for their third game against Hershey in the last 21 days. Bridgeport is 3-1-0-0 against the Bears overall this season, with a pair of wins at Giant Center on Oct. 7 and Mar. 2. The Sound Tigers have outscored the Bears 6-2 in Pennsylvania, including a 4-1 victory in their last tilt there earlier this month.
Sunday, Mar. 17 vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (5 p.m.): Bridgeport hosts Springfield for the final time this season on St. Patrick’s Day and “Hockey and Hops 2” at Webster Bank Arena. Anyone 21 and older can take advantage of a $25 package that includes a ticket to the game, access to a pre-game craft beer tasting party (beginning at 2:30 p.m.), a hockey stick bottle opener and a Sound Tigers tasting glass. The Sound Tigers and Thunderbirds will drop the puck at 5 p.m., with Bridgeport looking for its seventh win in nine games against the T-Birds this season.
News and Notes:
Smith’s Superb Effort: Jeremy Smith enjoyed his best game with the Sound Tigers on Sunday, making a season-high 40 saves on 42 shots over a 65-minute span. He also turned aside two of the three shootout chances he faced in Bridgeport’s win. In fact, 40 saves are the most for a Sound Tiger in any game this season and Smith was 18-for-18 in the third period alone, also a season-high. The 29-year-old has won four of his last five decisions and continues to be Bridgeport’s go-to netminder with Christopher Gibson on emergency recall with the Islanders. Mitch Gillam was called up from Worcester (ECHL) last Thursday and made 17 saves in his AHL debut on Friday against Rochester (no decision).
Ho-Sang Making It Happen: Josh Ho-Sang got loose for a second-period breakaway on Sunday and beat Kasimir Kaskisuo with slick left-to-right move to score his seventh goal of the season. Ho-Sang, a Toronto native, is up to 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his last seven games and is fourth on the team in scoring (37 points), and third in assists (30). He also leads the Sound Tigers in points-per-game (0.82, minimum 35 games played).
Leading the Way: Veteran winger Chris Bourque continues to lead the Sound Tigers in scoring through 62 games this season. His 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) are tied for 37th in the AHL and he also leads Bridgeport in shots (146), power-play points (18), game-winning goals (5) and shootout goals (4). Bourque is attempting to lead his AHL club in scoring for the fourth time in the last five years and remains 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.
Sunday – The Day of Zest: The Sound Tigers are an impressive 12-1-1-0 in Sunday games this season and have won 10 straight dating back to Nov. 4. The club has outscored opponents 54-38 on Sunday afternoons with at least one power-play goal in half of those contests. Steve Bernier leads the way with 10 of his team-leading 20 goals this season coming on a Sunday.
Quick Hits: Steve Bernier is third in the AHL in shooting percentage (24.4%)…Otto Koivula is eighth among AHL rookies in points (40) and tied for fourth among blue-liners in goals (17)… Sebastian Aho is tied for eighth among league defensemen in points (38) and tied for third among blue-liners in assists (32)… The Sound Tigers lead the Eastern Conference in overtime games played (22) and pace the league in wins beyond regulation (15)… Bridgeport leads the AHL in win percentage at home (.768), where the club will play 10 of its final 14 games.
Goals: Steve Bernier (20)
Assists: Chris Bourque (33)
Points: Chris Bourque (46)
Plus/Minus: Otto Koivula (+15)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (111)
Power-play goals: Steve Bernier (9)
Shots: Chris Bourque (141)
Wins: Jeremy Smith, Christopher Gibson* (18)
* Currently on recall with the New York Islanders (NHL)
The New York Islanders (40-22-7) have won three of their last four, including a two-game sweep of the Ottawa Senators last week and a 2-0 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at home Monday. Former Sound Tigers Ryan Pulock and Anders Lee both scored against the Blue Jackets, while Thomas Greiss recorded a 31-save shutout for his fifth blank sheet of the season. The second-place Islanders (two points behind Washington) are led in scoring by NHL All-Star Mat Barzal with 55 points (17 goals, 38 assists), while Lee paces the club with 24 goals. New York returns to action on Thursday with a 7 p.m. home game against the Montreal Canadiens, before opening a two-game road trip this weekend.
The ECHL’s Worcester Railers H.C. (28-23-5-4) saw their five-game win streak and six-game point streak come to an end Sunday after with a 2-0 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays at home. Despite the setback, the Railers have played very well lately, earning back-to-back wins against the Adirondack Thunder last week and a 6-1 victory against the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday. Former Sound Tiger Ryan Hitchcock scored twice and added an assist Saturday, finishing the week with four goals and seven points in four games. Sixth-place Worcester returns to action this weekend with three games in three days against the Manchester Monarchs (Friday, Sunday) and Maine Marines (Saturday).
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].