Sound Tigers Gear up for Three-Game Weekend
ALLENTOWN, Penn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (28-18-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, face their second straight 3-in-3 this weekend with divisional matchups against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (26-19-3-2), Hartford Wolf Pack (21-25-3-3) and the first-place Charlotte Checkers (32-13-6-1). The series kicks off tonight with Bridgeport's first trip to Allentown, Penn. since the season opener on Oct. 6, facing the Phantoms at 7:05 p.m. at PPL Center.
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LAST TIME OUT
The second-place Sound Tigers are five points ahead of the fourth-place Phantoms entering tonight's tilt and have won four of their last five games, including a 5-4 OT victory against the Utica Comets on Sunday. Tanner Fritz scored the winner 2:28 into the extra session, while Travis St. Denis (one goal, one assist), Otto Koivula (one goal, one assist) and Chris Bourque (two assists) each added a multi-point performance. Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (14-9-4) made 29 saves to earn his third straight win and his 58th career victory with Bridgeport (third on the team's all-time list).
TIGERS VS. PHANTOMS
Tonight's contest marks the fifth of six meetings between the Sound Tigers and Phantoms this season, and the second of three matchups at PPL Center. The series is currently knotted at two wins apiece, but Lehigh Valley has points in three of the first four games including a shootout loss on Oct. 21. In their last tilt on Feb. 1, the Sound Tigers suffered a 7-5 loss at Webster Bank Arena despite three assists from Otto Koivula and five different players in double figures. Lehigh Valley has outscored Bridgeport 17-16 in the season series so far, while Chris Bourque paces all players in the series with seven points (three goals, four assists) in four outings.
VIEW FROM LEHIGH VALLEY
The Phantoms have lost three of their last four games, but defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack in a 5-2 final at home in their last outing on Sunday. Colin McDonald and Connor Bunnaman each scored twice, and Mike McKenna made 33 saves before he was recalled by Philadelphia on Tuesday. Leading-scorer Greg Carey added two assists and now ranks 11th in the AHL's scoring race with 46 points (21 goals, 25 assists) in 49 games. Carey is also tied for second in the AHL with 11 power-play goals and 23 power-play points, while T.J. Brennan is tied for fourth with 16 power-play assists.
TIGERS VS. WOLF PACK
Saturday's 7 p.m. game features the 10th and final matchup between the Sound Tigers and Wolf Pack this season, and the fifth of five meetings at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 5-2-1-1 against Hartford this season, including a 3-2 shootout win in their last outing on Feb. 5. Connor Jones and Jeff Kubiak both scored in regulation that night before former Hartford forward Chris Bourque had the only tally in the shootout. GET TICKETS!
VIEW FROM HARTFORD
The Wolf Pack have lost eight of their last 10 games (2-6-1-1) and have dropped to 15th place in the Eastern Conference, but defeated the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday in a 3-2 final at the XL Center. Vinni Lettieri, Steven Fogarty and Tim Gettinger each scored, while Brandon Halverson made a season-high 43 saves in net. Leading scorer Peter Holland was held quiet against Toronto, but continues to pace Hartford in goals (19) and points (47), which is tied for eighth in the AHL's scoring race. John Gilmour has also been strong this season with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 52 games, which is tied for second among all league defensemen.
TIGERS VS. CHECKERS
Sunday's 3 p.m. matinee marks the sixth of eight matchups between the Sound Tigers and Checkers this year, and the second of four meetings in the Park City. Bridgeport is 2-3-0-0 against Charlotte this season, but the Checkers have won three straight. Each of the last four tilts took place in North Carolina, but the last three will all occur at Webster Bank Arena. GET TICKETS!
VIEW FROM CHARLOTTE
Mike Vellucci's club has been dominant from the get-go this season and continues to pace all AHL teams with 71 points. However, the Checkers are on an uncharacteristic three-game losing streak entering the weekend (0-2-0-1) and just 2-4-3-1 in their last 10 games. 2019 AHL All-Star Andrew Poturalski leads Charlotte with 48 points (18 goals, 30 assists) - tied for sixth in the league - and Alex Nedeljkovic paces all AHL goalies with 22 wins. The Checkers open their own 3-in-3 this weekend with stops in Springfield (Friday) and Providence (Saturday) prior to Sunday's game in Bridgeport.
WHEN 60 ISN'T ENOUGH
The Sound Tigers have gone past 60 minutes in two of their last four games and 17 times overall this year - tied for second-most in the AHL. Eleven of those games have resulted in victories, which leads the league. Bridgeport has been no stranger to close games this season and the team continues to lead the AHL in one-goal outcomes with 31 (20-5-4-2).
HEALTHY AND HUNGRY
New York Islanders prospects Matt Lorito and John Stevens each missed more than 45 games this season due to injury, but returned to the ice this month and have already made a difference. Lorito, a two-time AHL All-Star and 2017 Calder Cup champion, who signed a two-year deal with the Isles in July, made his Sound Tigers debut on Sunday and assisted on the overtime-winner. Meanwhile, Stevens has three points (1g, 2a) in six games during his second pro season, including the game-tying goal in Saturday's win.
Finnish power forward Otto Koivula has consistently impressed during his first pro season in North America. The 20-year-old leads the Sound Tigers with 11 multi-point games this season, a plus-17 rating, and is currently on a team-best four-game point streak - tied with linemate Chris Bourque. He has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his last nine games and ranks sixth among all AHL rookies with 37 points (15g, 22a), while also placing fifth among league rookies in shooting percentage (15-for-68, 22.1%).
Two-time All-Star Sebastian Aho is tied for fourth among AHL defensemen in assists (27) and 10th in points (30) over 43 games... Steve Bernier scored his 53rd career goal with the Sound Tigers on Sunday, tied for eighth on the team's all-time list... Christopher Gibson is tied for the league lead with three shootout wins... Bridgeport is tied for sixth in the AHL with 53 first-period goals... The Sound Tigers improved to 8-1-1-0 in Sunday games and have now outscored opponents by 11 at 5-on-5 (100-89) this season... Chris Bourque leads the Sound Tigers in points (40) and assists (30), and has 14 points in his last nine games (3g, 11a).
NHL: New York Islanders (34-17-6): Next: Tomorrow vs. Edmonton (7 p.m. ET)
ECHL: Worcester Railers (21-20-5-3): Next: Tonight vs. Allen (8:05 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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American Hockey League Stories from February 15, 2019
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- T.J. Brennan Scores OT Winner for Phantoms - Lehigh Valley Phantoms
- Wolves Goosed by the Moose - Chicago Wolves
- Koivula, Lorito and St. Denis each score in overtime loss on Friday - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
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