Sound Tigers Face Wolf Pack at 11 a.m.
HARTFORD, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (23-17-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, renew their in-state rivalry against the Hartford Wolf Pack (21-20-4-3) this morning with an 11 a.m. puck drop at the XL Center. It's the second of three games that will start before noon and the Sound Tigers' only morning contest on the road this season. Last time out, Bridgeport earned a 3-1 win in its inaugural matchup against the Belleville Senators on Saturday, led by captain Ben Holmstrom's first two-goal performance as a Sound Tiger. Connor Jones also scored his fifth goal of the season and Christopher Gibson made 24 saves to backstop his 17th victory - tied for fourth in the AHL.
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SOUND TIGERS VS. WOLF PACK
Today's contest marks the eighth of 10 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Wolf Pack this season, and the fourth of five matchups in the state's capital city. Bridgeport is 5-1-0-1 against Hartford this year, but the teams haven't met since Jan. 10 when the Wolf Pack recorded a 2-1 shootout victory at Webster Bank Arena. Travis St. Denis and Peter Holland each scored in regulation, while Ryan Gropp netted the only tally in a three-round shootout for Hartford. However, Bridgeport is 3-0-0-0 at the XL Center this season, including a 5-1 win on Dec. 23.
VIEW FROM HARTFORD
The Wolf Pack have won five straight games at home and enter this morning's contest on a seven-game point streak overall (6-0-1-0), including a 3-1 victory against the Providence Bruins last Saturday. Steven Fogarty (shorthanded), Vinni Lettieri and Ryan Gropp each found the back of the net, while Alexandre Georgiev made 16 saves on 17 shots. John Gilmour was quiet for the second straight outing, but the All-Star defensemen continues to rank ninth among AHL blue-liners in scoring (25 points). Hartford's recent success has lifted the team to sixth place in the Atlantic Division standings, just four points behind the fifth-place Charlotte Checkers. However, the Wolf Pack have lost Lettieri (leading goal scorer), Peter Holland (leading point scorer) and Anthony DeAngelo due to call-ups with the New York Rangers since Jan. 30.
KING OF THE CREASE
Christopher Gibson allowed just one goal in each of his two starts last week and the fifth-year netminder now ranks eighth in the AHL in goals-against-average (2.34) and tied for fourth in wins (17). In addition, Gibson's 24-save victory on Saturday put him in sole possession of fifth place on the Sound Tigers' all-time wins list with his 42nd career victory, which passed Dieter Kochan (2003-05). Gibson is 5-2-0 over his last seven starts, allowing two goals or fewer in those games.
Secondary scoring was crucial in Saturday's win against Belleville and a balanced offense has been a theme for the Sound Tigers this season. The third and fourth lines accounted for all three goals against the Senators, as Ben Holmstrom scored two goals for the first time since Mar. 26, 2011 and Connor Jones chipped in his fifth tally of the year. As a team, the Sound Tigers have just one player in the AHL's top 80 in goal scoring (Scott Eansor - 16) and no active players in the top 140 in points. Bridgeport is 21st in the League with 2.80 goals per game on average.
The Sound Tigers have outshot their opponent 35 times in 46 games this season (76.1%)... Bridgeport has allowed a power-play goal in three straight games, but its penalty kill remains second in the AHL (86.7%)... Leading goal-scorer Scott Eansor missed Saturday's game due to injury - the first time he was scratched in his pro career... The Wolf Pack open a six-game road trip following today's contest... Hartford has been outscored 58-40 in third periods this season.
NHL: New York Islanders (26-22-6): Next at Buffalo Sabres - Friday, 7 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (19-19-4-2): Next vs. Reading Royals - Tonight, 7:05 p.m. ET
Pink in the Rink: The overall theme of Saturday's 7 p.m. contest against the Providence Bruins is much bigger than the game itself. The Sound Tigers will celebrate Pink in the Rink, benefiting breast cancer awareness and research, with a pre-game wine tasting party beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena. A special ticket package is available now through Friday at 3 p.m. that includes a seat at the game, access to the tasting party and a wine glass for $30. Click here for more information.
Lunchbox Giveaway: The first 2,500 kids, ages 14 and younger, will take home a Sound Tigers' lunchbox this Sunday against the Syracuse Crunch when doors open at 4 p.m., courtesy of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The weekend finale will feature the first of two meetings between the Sound Tigers and Tampa Bay's affiliate, and the only matchup at Webster Bank Arena this season. Great seats are on sale now.
Don't Go It Alone: Whether it's a corporate outing, a fundraiser, or just friends getting together, a group outing with the Sound Tigers will guarantee an unforgettable experience filled with fast-paced action on the ice, great music, promotions and contests at an affordable price. The Sound Tigers have a variety of packages and promotional events to offer. Please call the team's front office at 203-345-2300 ext. 7 for more information on the benefits of bringing your group to a future game!
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American Hockey League Stories from February 7, 2018
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