Sound Tigers Face Top Two Atlantic Division Teams this Weekend
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (19-29-5-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, face the first-place Hershey Bears (32-17-3-3) and second-place Hartford Wolf Pack (29-14-5-5) this weekend during Hockey Weekend in Connecticut at Webster Bank Arena. The series kicks off tonight with Bridgeport's final matchup against Hershey at 7 p.m. and ends tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m.
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LAST TIME OUT
The Sound Tigers are looking to bounce back after a wild, 8-5 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at home on Wednesday, in which five different Sound Tigers had multiple points but Bridgeport allowed eight goals for the first time since Apr. 5, 2019. It snapped the club's two-game win streak at home and was the first time the Sound Tigers have lost when scoring at least five goals this season (fourth time they've done that).
HOCKEY WEEKEND IN CONNECTICUT
Hockey Weekend in Connecticut returns for its second straight season and the Sound Tigers have packed even more excitement into this year's two-day event. On Saturday, the first 1,000 kids 12 and younger will receive a free Sound Tigers youth jersey presented by JRC Transportation. In addition, the Sound Tigers are hosting the first-ever doubleheader between the American Hockey League and National Women's Hockey League (NWHL). Some of the best female hockey players in the country will take the ice as the Connecticut Whale face the Boston Pride at 2 p.m. today. Just $25 gets you a ticket to both games, plus stick around following the NWHL game for a free autograph session with the entire Whale team.
On Sunday, the first 2,500 fans will receive a bobblehead of Sound Tigers forward Steve Bernier, courtesy of Newtown Savings Bank. Doors open at 2 p.m. prior to Bridgeport's matinee matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack at 3 p.m. Bernier is a veteran of 637 National Hockey League games and currently ranks fifth on the Sound Tigers' all-time goal-scoring list (63). Click here for tickets and more information for both games.
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Tonight's tilt is the sixth and final meeting between the Sound Tigers and Bears this season, and the third of three at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport took the first game 3-2 on Nov. 23, but has lost each of the last four, including a 4-1 loss to Hershey on Jan. 31. Kieffer Bellows had the Sound Tigers' lone goal that night, while Shane Gersich scored his first professional hat trick for Hershey. The first-place Bears are two points ahead of Hartford but have played two more games entering tonight's action. Last night, Hershey opened a brief two-game road trip with a 2-1 regulation loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Wilkes-Barre, Penn.
TIGERS VS. WOLF PACK
Sunday's game will mark the seventh of 12 meetings between the Nutmeg State rivals this season and the third of six matchups at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 1-3-2-0 against Hartford, with its only win coming on Dec. 27 at home (5-1 victory). The Wolf Pack have been near the top of the Atlantic Division standings since early October and currently rank second behind Hershey, although Hartford has the best winning percentage in the division (.642). The club is led offensively by All-Star forward Vinni Lettieri's 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists) in 53 games.
CLUTTERBUCK CLEARED FOR CONDITIONING
New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck was placed on long term injured reserve (LTIR) and loaned to the Sound Tigers for conditioning on Friday. He hasn't played since Dec. 19 when he was cut along his left wrist in a game against the Boston Bruins and hasn't played in the AHL since Oct. 13, 2008 with the Houston Aeros. Clutterbuck is in his seventh season with the Islanders and 12th full year in the NHL. He has 236 points (120 goals, 116 assists) in 820 NHL games with New York and Minnesota, and 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 75 AHL games with Houston. He will wear #18 with the Sound Tigers.
HUTTON'S HOT HAND
First-year defenseman Grant Hutton has seven points in his last six games (two goals, five assists) and was one of five Sound Tigers who recorded a multi-point effort on Wednesday. Hutton, a rookie out of Miami-Ohio, is third among Bridgeport blue-liners in points (16) this season and has played alongside defensemen Sebastian Aho, Parker Wotherspoon and Kyle Burroughs for much of the year.
McDonald is expected to play his 900th professional game tonight. The former Sound Tigers captain will likely make his 749th AHL appearance (Bridgeport, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Springfield, Oklahoma City) to go along with 148 NHL games (New York Islanders, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Philadelphia) and three ECHL contests (Stockton). McDonald, a three-time AHL All-Star and Willie Marshall Award winner as the league's top goal-scorer (2010-11), has 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 51 games this season. He is third on the Sound Tigers in assists.
The Sound Tigers have only allowed one power-play goal in their last seven games... Parker Wotherspoon, Travis St. Denis and Otto Koivula all hit the 20-point mark last weekend, while Wotherspoon is now just two points away from tying his career high (23 points last season)... David Quenneville and the New York Islanders' second-round pick in 2021 were traded to New Jersey last Sunday for veteran defenseman Andy Greene... Steve Bernier played his 900th professional game on Wednesday... Simon Holmstrom has five points (four goals, one assist) in his last six games.
NHL: New York Islanders (34-20-6) - Next: Tomorrow vs. San Jose, 5 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (18-32-3-0) - Next: Tonight at Greenville, 7:35 p.m. ET
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