Sound Tigers Begin Second Half this Weekend
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-11-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, begin the second half of their 2018-19 season with two games this weekend against the Utica Comets (20-17-2-1) and Hartford Wolf Pack (17-16-2-2). The Sound Tigers complete a six-game road trip tonight at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, N.Y., before returning to Webster Bank Arena on Saturday to face Hartford in the first of five home games this month.
LAST TIME OUT
Otto Koivula scored for the fifth consecutive game and Travis St. Denis added a power-play tally in a 3-2 loss to the Binghamton Devils at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena last Saturday, which dropped the Sound Tigers one game below .500 on the road. Koivula also had one assist for his eighth multi-point game of the season, while CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for December, Jeremy Smith (11-6-2), made 31 saves on 34 shots. The loss was Bridgeport's third in a row - the team's longest winless streak this season (0-2-1).
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The Sound Tigers are honored to host Military Appreciation Night, presented by the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut, this Saturday at 7 p.m. All veterans and active duty personnel will receive a free ticket by showing their military I.D. at the Webster Bank Arena Click It or Ticket Box Office. In addition, the first 2,000 fans will receive a camouflage hat when doors open at 6 p.m. and everyone is encouraged to look into a $25 ticket package (tickets at the box office are regularly $31 in this seating area) that includes a ticket to the game and a military themed Sound Tigers t-shirt! A portion of this ticket package will also be donated to the BBB Foundation to support scholarships for children of military members from Connecticut.
TIGERS VS. COMETS
Tonight's 7 p.m. puck drop marks the first of two meetings between the Sound Tigers and Comets this season, and the only matchup at the Adirondack Bank Center in New York. Last year, each team gathered one win beyond regulation and picked up three points in the two-game season series. The Sound Tigers earned a 7-6 overtime victory on Dec. 1, 2017 led by Tanner Fritz's four-point night (two goals, two assists), while the Comets bounced back with a 2-1 shootout win the next night in Bridgeport.
VIEW FROM UTICA
The Comets saw a four-game win streak come to an end on Wednesday with a 6-3 setback to the Toronto Marlies in their last outing. Tanner Kero scored twice on three shots and Brendan Gaunce added his 11th goal of the season, while Ivan Kulbakov (7-7-2) stopped 23 of the 28 shots he faced. Despite the loss, Utica sits third in the North Division and tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with 43 points in 40 games (tied for the most games played in the AHL). The Comets are led by sixth-year forward Reid Boucher in goals (17) and points (34), which is also tied for 15th in the league's scoring race.
TIGERS VS. WOLF PACK
Saturday's 7 p.m. matchup features the eighth of 10 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Wolf Pack this season, and the fourth of five matchups at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 4-1-1-1 against Hartford this season and has won three in a row, including a 3-2 overtime victory in their last tilt on Dec. 29. Kieffer Bellows and Otto Koivula each scored in regulation and Travis St. Denis capped a two-point performance with the overtime winner with just 33.8 seconds remaining.
VIEW FROM HARTFORD
The Wolf Pack saw a three-game win streak come to an end on Sunday with a 5-1 setback to the Providence Bruins. Cole Schneider recorded Hartford's only goal and has now scored in back-to-back games as the club continues a three-game road trip this weekend. Schneider, a UConn product, leads the Wolf Pack in goals (13) and is second in scoring (25 points), while Peter Holland paces the team in assists (23) and points (35). Holland is also tied for 11th in the AHL's scoring race.
TAKING HOME THE HARDWARE
Jeremy Smith had a marvelous month of December and he was recognized for it last week. The 10th-year netminder was named CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month after going 6-1-0 in seven December starts and recording a 2.12 goals-against-average and .931 save percentage during that span. In his first season with the Sound Tigers, Smith signed an AHL deal on July 9, 2018 and is currently 11-6-2 with a 2.70 goals-against-average (tied for 15th in the AHL) and .907 save percentage in 20 appearances.
Rookie power forward Otto Koivula had a remarkable first half to his initial pro season in North America. In addition to scoring in each of his last five games, including a spectacular, highlight-reel goal on Saturday, the Islanders' fourth-round pick in 2016 is tied for sixth among rookie goal-scorers and point-getters in the AHL. Koivula is also third among league rookies in plus-minus (+15) and fourth in shooting percentage (25-percent). All 25 of his points this season have come since Nov. 4 (last 27 games).
HEY NOW, YOU'RE AN ALL-STAR
The AHL announced on Jan. 3 its playing rosters for the 2019 Lexus All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield, which included Michael Dal Colle (currently on recall with the Islanders) and Sebastian Aho. Dal Colle leads the Sound Tigers in goals (16) and points (28) in 28 AHL appearances this season and was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Dec. 17. He has 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in his last seven AHL games and earns his first trip to the All-Star event. Meanwhile, Aho becomes just the fourth Sound Tiger to earn back-to-back All-Star selections and the first since Ryan Pulock (2015, 2016). The 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic will be held Jan. 27-28 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
Sebastian Aho is tied for sixth among AHL defensemen with 24 points (three goals, 21 assists), but is not expected to play this weekend with an upper-body injury... Aho is also tied for fourth among blue-liners in assists... Steve Bernier is tied for fifth in the AHL with eight power-play goals... Bridgeport is 14-0-0-1 when scoring at least four goals in a game... The Sound Tigers' 43 first-period goals are fourth-most in the league... Bridgeport has been involved in 24 one-goal outcomes, most in the AHL... Bridgeport has been outshot in 13 straight games, since Dec. 5 vs. Hartford... Josh Ho-Sang was returned on loan by the Islanders on Tuesday and is expected to play his first games in the AHL since Dec. 8 this weekend.
NHL: New York Islanders (24-14-4): Next: Tomorrow vs. New York Rangers (1 p.m. ET)
ECHL: Worcester Railers (14-16-3-2): Next: Tomorrow vs. Reading Royals (7:05 p.m. ET)
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers boast one of their most extensive and wide-ranging promotional schedules ever for the 2018-19 season. The fan-friendly calendar includes the return of popular themes like Hockey and Hops (Mar. 17), Military Appreciation (Jan. 12), Star Wars Night (Jan. 19) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will also be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24). View the full 2018-19 promotional schedule.
For additional details or to reserve a group outing for any giveaway or theme night, please call the Sound Tigers' front office at (203) 345-2300 ext 7.
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