Sound Tigers Continue Road Trip in Syracuse, Binghamton
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-9-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, continue a season-long, six-game road trip this weekend with matchups against the Syracuse Crunch (20-9-2-0) and Binghamton Devils (15-19-3-0). The Sound Tigers have earned points in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-1-1), but suffered a 5-4 shootout loss to the Rochester Americans on Wednesday at Blue Cross Arena, in which Matt Gaudreau scored his first AHL goal and added an assist. Tanner Fritz also logged two points (one goal, one assist) and Otto Koivula and Ryan Bourque scored the other goals for Bridgeport. In net, Jeremy Smith (11-5-2) made 25 saves just hours after he was named CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for December.
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TIGERS VS. CRUNCH
Tonight's 7 p.m. puck drop marks the first of two meetings between the Sound Tigers and Crunch this season, and the only contest at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena in Upstate New York. It features two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference (by win percentage) as the Crunch lead the North Division. Syracuse won each of the two meetings last season, including a 4-1 decision in their last tilt on Mar. 23, 2018 at home. In fact, the Sound Tigers have not defeated the Crunch in regulation since Apr. 18, 2015.
VIEW FROM SYRACUSE
The Crunch possess the AHL's top offense and second-best defense heading into 2019. The club scores 3.97 goals-per-game on average (first) and allows just 2.68 goals-per-game (second), only trailing the San Jose Barracuda. However, Syracuse suffered a 4-2 setback to the Utica Comets on Wednesday, which snapped their five-game win streak. Cory Conacher and Alex Barre-Boulet both scored for the Crunch, and Eddie Pasquale made 27 saves. Former Sound Tiger Carter Verhaeghe chipped in one assist and is now tied with Conacher for fourth in the AHL's scoring race with 36 points. Barre-Boulet leads the league in power-play goals (10) and is also tied for the league lead among rookies with 31 points in 31 games.
TIGERS VS. DEVILS
Saturday's 7:05 p.m. contest will be the second and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Devils this season, and the only matchup at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. Bridgeport is 1-0-0-0 in the season series after scoring a season-high four power-play goals on Nov. 7 en route to a 7-3 victory at Webster Bank Arena, in which Chris Bourque had three points (one goal, two assists) and Travis St. Denis scored a pair. The Sound Tigers suffered a loss in their only trip to Binghamton last season, 2-1 on Oct. 7, 2017.
VIEW FROM BINGHAMTON
The Devils enter the weekend on a two-game slide and in the basement of the North Division standings. The club is five games below .500 on the road, but one game above at home where the team is currently in the midst of a four-game homestand. Last time out, Binghamton suffered a 5-2 loss against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on New Year's Eve, despite scoring first just 4:13 into the game. Two of Binghamton's top three scorers, Blake Pietila and John Quenneville, are currently on recall with the New Jersey Devils.
SMITH NAMED CCM/AHL GOALTENDER OF THE MONTH
Jeremy Smith had a tremendous month of December and he was recognized for it on Wednesday. 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 11-5-2 with a 2.68 goals-against-average (14th in the league) and .907 save percentage in 19 appearances. He carries a five-game unbeaten in regulation streak (4-0-1) into this weekend's action.
START ME UP
The Sound Tigers struck first in all three of their games last week and have recorded the opening goal in 11 of their last 13 outings. In fact, Bridgeport has scored first 22 times this season (tied for second-most in the AHL) and continues to be one of the league's strongest teams early in games. The club's 42 first-period goals are second in the AHL and the Sound Tigers are currently 18-2-1-1 when scoring first.
HEY NOW, YOU'RE AN ALL-STAR
The AHL announced on Thursday 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). Aho leads Bridgeport with 21 assists and is fifth among all AHL defensemen in scoring (24 points). The 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic will be held Jan. 27-28 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
Otto Koivula has scored in three straight games and is tied for 11th among AHL rookies with 22 points (10g, 12a) in 32 games... Sebastian Aho is tied for second among blue-liners in assists... Steve Bernier is tied for third in the AHL with eight power-play goals and third in shooting percentage (27.9%)... Bridgeport is 14-0-0-1 when scoring at least four goals in a game... The Sound Tigers have been involved in a league-leading 23 one-goal outcomes, including four straight (15-2-4-2)... Former Sound Tiger Devon Toews, who had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in 24 AHL games this season, scored his first NHL goal in overtime last night in a 3-2 Islanders' win against the Chicago Blackhawks.
NHL: New York Islanders (22-13-4): Next: Tomorrow at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET)
ECHL: Worcester Railers (13-14-3-2): Next: Tonight at South Carolina Stingrays (7:05 p.m.)
Next Home Game: The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, Jan. 12 for Military Appreciation Night against the Hartford Wolf Pack, presented by the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut. The first 2,000 fans will receive a camouflage hat when doors open at 6 p.m. and fans are 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.
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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