The Bridgeport Report: Week 6Nov 12, 2019
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (4-9-2-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, continued to show their potential last week as they collected two wins and endured several tightly contested games at Webster Bank Arena.
Two of the four contests last week featured miraculous goaltending from Christopher Gibson, who recorded a pair of shutouts and lowered his goals-against-average below 2.00. The fifth-year Sound Tiger now has nine career shutouts with Bridgeport, the second-most for any netminder in team history, and two shutouts in his last three starts. His first blank sheet of the season came in a 1-0 victory against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Wednesday, in which Nic Pierog’s first AHL goal was the lone tally.
Gibson’s second shutout was solidified on Monday afternoon with a 32-save performance against the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Islanders rookie prospects Simon Holmstrom and Arnaud Durandeau each beat Bruins’ goalie Max Lagace, while Gibson tied Kevin Poulin for second place on the team’s all-time wins list (69). He also helped shut down Providence’s power play, which came up empty on seven opportunities.
Monday’s tilt between the Sound Tigers and Bruins was a rematch from Saturday night’s affair at Webster Bank Arena, which saw Lagace dominate for the second straight meeting. Providence’s netminder stopped all but one shot in a 4-1 Bruins’ victory, while Oliver Wahlstrom lit the lamp on Otto Koivula’s centering feed in his return from the Islanders. Wahlstrom now has five points (2g, 3a) in seven AHL games this season.
On Sunday, the Sound Tigers faced the Belleville Senators for the first time this season and just the fifth time in three years, but despite a goal from Andrew Ladd in the final game on his conditioning loan, Bridgeport fell 2-1. Jakub Skarek was excellent on his 20th birthday with 28 saves on 30 shots, but the Sound Tigers couldn’t reward him with the win. It was Bridgeport’s first loss to Belleville since the Ottawa Senators’ affiliate moved to Canada in 2017.
The Sound Tigers continue on a four-game road trip with their first visit north of the border this weekend. Bridgeport travels to CAA Arena in Belleville, Ontario on Friday for a 7 p.m. rematch against the B-Sens, before facing the Laval Rocket at 4 p.m. Saturday. 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 start time.
The week ahead:
Friday, Nov. 15 at Belleville (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers will look to even the season series in their second meeting in six days. Friday’s rematch is the final time Bridgeport and Belleville will face each other in the regular season. Over the previous five seasons, the Sound Tigers had not lost to Ottawa’s affiliate in regulation.
Saturday, Nov. 16 at Laval (4 p.m.): The Canadian road trip continues on Saturday with a stop just outside of Montreal against the Canadiens’ affiliate, Laval Rocket. Laval has won seven of its last 10 games and is currently tied for first in the North Division with Toronto (19 points). Bridgeport went 2-0-0-0 against Laval last season.
News and Notes:
Rising Rookies: Four of the Sound Tigers’ last five goals have been scored by American Hockey League rookies. The youth movement included tallies from Simon Holmstrom, Oliver Wahlstrom, Nic Pierog and Arnaud Durandeau last week, with Holmstrom’s three goals on the season leading the way for Bridgeport rookies. Holmstrom is tied for 16th among first-year AHL players in goals.
Starts with Shots: One of the key focuses for improvement early in the season has been to produce more shots on goal. Bridgeport was better at that on Monday with a season-high 35 shots on target, but the club is still last in the league in shots per game on average (26.38). They outshot the Bruins by a two-to-one margin in the second period and were aided by several strong power-play opportunities.
Quick Hits: Bridgeport has scored two goals or fewer in eight of its last nine games… Durandeau’s first-period goal on Monday afternoon was his first professional game-winner… Captain Kyle Burroughs passed Ben Holmstrom for fifth place on the Sound Tigers all-time games played list with his 269th appearance on Saturday… Bridgeport has only led after 40 minutes on three occasions this season, but they’ve won all three times… The Sound Tigers’ penalty kill on the road is seventh in the AHL (88.6%).
Goals: Matt Lorito (4)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (6)
Points: Matt Lorito, Sebastian Aho (8)
Plus/Minus: Andrew Ladd, Cole Bardreau (+1)
Penalty Minutes: Kyle Burroughs (26)
Power Play Goals: 6 tied (1)
Shots: Sebastian Aho (40)
Wins: Christopher Gibson (3)
The New York Islanders (12-3-1) saw their longest winning streak in nearly 40 years come to an end last Thursday in an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center, which snapped the 10-game sting. However, the Islanders responded with a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Monday and extended their unbeaten in regulation streak to 12 games (11-0-1). Thomas Greiss recorded perhaps has best performance of the year, stopping 37 shots against Florida, while Scott Mayfield scored in the third period to break a tie. After several days of rest, the Islanders will face the Toronto Maple Leafs at NYCB Live this Wednesday before traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers for the second time this season Saturday night.
The ECHL’s Worcester Railers (4-6-0-0) split two decisions with the Adirondack Thunder last weekend in Glens Falls, New York. Worcester’s two late goals in the third period sent Friday’s game past regulation where the Railers picked up a 5-4 shootout win. On Sunday, Islanders prospect Linus Soderstrom made 39 saves for Worcester, but it wasn’t enough to stop a hot Thunder offense in a 6-2 loss. The Railers return home for their next two games, including a 10:05 a.m. matchup against the Reading Royals this Wednesday morning at the DCU Center.