Sound Tigers Begin Playoff Journey Tonight
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers open the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs tonight with Game 1 against the Hershey Bears at Webster Bank Arena. The second-place Sound Tigers finished the regular season (43-24-6-3) one point ahead of third-place Hershey - each team winning 43 of their 76 games. It's Bridgeport's first playoff appearance since 2016 and the club's ninth series in franchise history, while the Bears last made the postseason in 2017. The Sound Tigers are looking to win their first playoff game since 2010 (4-1 against Hershey) and their first series victory since 2003 (swept Manchester in the first round before losing to Binghamton in six games).
SOUND UP FOR THE CUP
Help the Sound Tigers push towards the Calder Cup with two value-packed ticket bundles that are on sale now. For just $20, get one (1) limited-edition "Sound Up for the Cup" playoff t-shirt and one (1) ticket to a first-round home game at Webster Bank Arena. In addition, a $25 package is available that includes one (1) Sound Tigers mason jar, one (1) hot dog, bag of chips, soda/beer, and one (1) ticket to a first-round home game. Click here for more information on packages, food and drink specials, and $12 group tickets.
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Each team won three of the six meetings during the regular season (14 goals apiece), but the Sound Tigers earned points in four of the six (3-2-0-1), including a 5-1 win at Webster Bank Arena on Feb. 24. Bridgeport went 1-1-0-1 at home during the season series and 2-1-0-0 at Giant Center. They last met on Mar. 31, in which Hershey prevailed with a 2-1 shootout win in Bridgeport. Sebastian Aho scored his eighth goal of the season that day and Steve Whitney logged his sixth of the year for Hershey. Michael Dal Colle and Steve Bernier led the Sound Tigers against the Bears with six points apiece during the regular season, while Mike Sgarbossa and Riley Barber collected six points each to pace Hershey. Bridgeport is 1-3-1 in five all-time playoff meetings against the Bears (2010, first round).
VIEW FROM HERSHEY
Spencer Carbery's club finished the regular season with three straight wins and on a four-game point streak, including a 3-1 victory against the Hartford Wolf Pack in its final game on Sunday. Chris McCarthy, Joey Leach and Yale product Joe Snively scored three consecutive goals after Hartford potted the opening tally just 32 seconds in, while Ilya Samsonov (20-14-2) made 23 saves to get to 20 wins. Mike Sgarbossa led Hershey during the regular season with 65 points (30 goals, 35 assists), which was also tied for ninth in the AHL's scoring race, while Riley Barber had a team-best 31 goals (sixth in the league). In addition, former Sound Tigers captain Aaron Ness tallied 50 points and 55 assists to lead all AHL defensemen in both categories. The Bears have won 11 Calder Cup championships in franchise history, the most of any AHL team.
FORMER BEAR BITING BACK
Chris Bourque won three Calder Cups with Hershey over parts of nine seasons (2006, 2009, 2010), but now battles his former team in the playoffs for the third time in his career. Bourque, who led Bridgeport in points (54) and assists (39) during the regular season, faced Hershey with the Providence Bruins in 2013 and Hartford Wolf Pack in 2015 - and he won both times. The six-time all-star and AHL's active leading scorer (746 regular-season points) also ranks among the AHL's all-time playoff leaders in assists (82 = first) and points (117 = fourth) in 133 postseason appearances (second). He is fourth in Bears history in games played (603), third in assists (390), fifth in points (586) and seventh in goals (196). His younger brother, Ryan Bourque, is also a former Bear who helped Hershey reach the Calder Cup Finals in 2015.
THE 1-2 PUNCH
Only two AHL teams finished the regular season with two different 20-win goalies: Bridgeport and Hershey. Christopher Gibson paved the way for the Sound Tigers with 22 victories, including wins in each of his last three starts. Meanwhile, Jeremy Smith won 21 games and was named CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for December with a 7-1-0 record in eight appearances. AHL All-Star Vitek Vanecek earned 21 wins for the Bears (currently on recall with the Washington Capitals) and Ilya Samsonov won 20 games.
Otto Koivula finished the regular season fourth among league rookies with 21 goals and tied for seventh in scoring (46 points)... Sebastian Aho ranked seventh among AHL defensemen with 46 points (nine goals, 37 assists)... Steve Bernier finished the regular season fourth among all AHL players in shooting percentage (23.3%), while Michael Dal Colle was second (24.3%)... Grant Hutton has six points (one goals, five assists) in his last six games... Seventeen current Sound Tigers have never played a professional playoff game in North America... Bridgeport went 26-7-3-2 at home during the regular season (57 points), tied for the league lead with Charlotte and Syracuse... Bridgeport faced 42 one-goal outcomes during the regular season, second-most in the AHL (behind Rockford).... The Bears had 31... The Sound Tigers are 2-12-2 in playoff games since 2006.
NHL: New York Islanders (4-0-0) - Swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1
ECHL: Worcester Railers (32-29-7-4) - Did not qualify for 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs
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