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Otto Koivula and Simon Holmstrom each scored twice last weekend as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (2-7-2-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, pocketed two points in three games, including their first win of the season at Webster Bank Arena. The victory came on the final day of a three-in-three series, which featured a come-from-behind 4-3 win against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Sunday night.
The Sound Tigers also faced the Phantoms on Saturday and began the weekend Friday night with a setback to the Syracuse Crunch in Upstate New York. Travis St. Denis scored his first goal of the season just 25 seconds after Syracuse took its first lead, but the Crunch added three more goals in a span of just 57 seconds in the third period to win 5-1. Jared Coreau saved 23 of the 27 shots he faced.
Less than 24 hours later, the Sound Tigers went toe-to-toe with the Phantoms in a 3-2 loss at home, battling hard in a game that was never separated by more than a goal. Holmstrom netted his first North American goal and Matt Lorito had two points, including his team-leading fourth goal of the season, while Christopher Gibson stopped 19 of 22 shots in his first appearance since Oct. 19.
The Sound Tigers bounced back on Sunday and earned their first win at home during another back-and-forth tilt against Lehigh Valley. After being returned earlier in the day from his first NHL recall, Koivula scored twice to lead the Sound Tigers to a 4-3 win. David Quenneville added his first multi-point game in the AHL (one goal, one assist) and Jakub Skarek earned his first AHL win with 31 saves.
The Sound Tigers continue a five-game homestand this Wednesday morning against the surging Springfield Thunderbirds, who have won six straight games. Bridgeport then welcomes the Providence Bruins and Belleville Senators to Webster Bank Arena for matchups on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.). Fans 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:
Wednesday, Nov. 6 vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (10:30 a.m.): The Sound Tigers will face the Springfield Thunderbirds in their first of three contests before noon this season, the annual Cool Fun 101 school-day matchup presented by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The T-Birds are up to second place in the Atlantic Division after six wins in a row and are 2-0-0-0 against the Sound Tigers this year. Tickets are still available!
Saturday, Nov. 9 vs. Providence Bruins (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers will look to even their season series against the Providence Bruins after a 4-0 loss on Oct. 22. Max Lagace backstopped the P-Bruins’ victory at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport will also focus on shutting down defenseman Alex Petrovic on Saturday, who is currently tied for the most points among AHL blue-liners. Tickets are on sale now for Purple Heart Night!
Sunday, Nov. 10 vs. Belleville Senators (3 p.m.): Bridgeport will play host to the Ottawa Senators’ affiliate of the first and only time this season on Sunday afternoon. The Sound Tigers won both games against the B-Sens last year and will try to continue the trend. It’s also Princess Day, with unique ticket packages on sale now that start at just $25. Those bundles include a movie ticket to see Frozen II at any local Bow Tie Cinemas location as well as a special light up princess wand (while supplies last).
Monday, Nov. 11 at Providence (3:05 p.m.): Bridgeport’s third consecutive three-in-three series concludes next Monday with a Veteran’s Day tilt at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. It’s the first meeting between the Sound Tigers and Bruins in Rhode Island this season.
News and Notes:
Rocking Return: Second-year center Otto Koivula scored his first two goals of the season on Sunday in his return to the lineup after he was recalled by New York on Wednesday. He was returned around 11:15 a.m. on Sunday afternoon and ended up scoring the first and last goals against the Phantoms (including the game-winner). Koivula has four points (two goals, two assists) in seven AHL games this season after putting up 46 points with the team as a rookie.
Multiple Milestones: 19-year-old Jakub Skarek picked up his first AHL win in his second career start on Sunday, making 31 on 34 shots in the 4-3 win. In addition, 21-year-old defenseman David Quenneville scored his first AHL goal and added an assist for his first multi-point game in the league. It helped the Sound Tigers power past Philadelphia’s affiliate for the first time this season.
Simon Says: Having just one assist in his first 10 games with the Sound Tigers, rookie forward Simon Holmstrom made his presence felt on the score sheet last weekend with his first and second AHL goals in back-to-back games. The Islanders first-round draft pick in June is in his first season in North America after coming over from Sweden.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers scored multiple power-play goals for the first time this season on Sunday, going 2-for-4 on the man advantage… Bridgeport allowed its first penalty-shot goal since April when Kyle Criscuolo scored on Christopher Gibson last Saturday… Sunday’s victory also marked the first time this season the Sound Tigers have won when scoring first.
Goals: Matt Lorito (4)
Assists: Sebastian Aho, Parker Wotherspoon (4)
Points: Matt Lorito (7)
Plus/Minus: Andrew Ladd, Cole Bardreau* (+1)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (22)
Power Play Goals: Six tied (1)
Shots: Sebastian Aho (31)
Wins: Christopher Gibson, Jakub Skarek (1)
The New York Islanders (10-3-0) pushed their win streak to nine straight games last weekend, the longest stretch for the club in 30 years. The Isles took down the defending Atlantic Division champion Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-2, at NYCB Live on Friday with former Sound Tiger Anders Lee, and also Matt Barzal, each collecting a multi-point game. The following night was much closer in a 1-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Semyon Varlamov recorded his first Islanders shutout and Derick Brassard netted the lone goal. The Isles open a four-game homestand this week, beginning with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Ottawa Senators at the Coliseum tonight. A victory against the Sens would make for the second longest winning streak in franchise history.
The ECHL’s Worcester Railers (3-5-0-0) dropped two games at home last weekend against the Newfoundland Growlers and the Adirondack Thunder. Linus Soderstrom made 32 saves in a 5-2 loss to the Growlers, while the Railers were shutout for just the second time this season with Adirondack closing out a 2-0 final on Saturday. Each of Worcester’s next two games will be against the Thunder in Cool Insuring Arena in Upstate New York, beginning Friday.