Sound Tigers Hit Road for Two this Weekend
UTICA, N.Y. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (9-14-3-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, face the Utica Comets (15-8-1-2) for the third time in four games with a 7 p.m. matchup at the Adirondack Bank Center. It begins a brief two-game weekend road trip, which ends tomorrow night against the Hershey Bears (12-9-2-3) at Giant Center.
The Sound Tigers fell to Utica 6-3 at home on Monday, despite goals from Kieffer Bellows, Jeff Kubiak and Nick Schilkey (career-best three-game goal streak). Bridgeport also led by one after two periods, but a four-goal frame for Utica pushed the Comets to victory.
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TIGERS VS. COMETS
Tonight's tilt marks the third of four meetings between the Sound Tigers and Comets this season, and the last of two in New York State. It's also the third of three matchups in the span of seven days. The series is knotted at 1-1-0-0 following Bridgeport's 5-4 shootout win last Friday and Utica's 6-3 victory at Webster Bank Arena on Monday. Sven Baertschi leads all players in the series with five points (5a) in two games. Last year, the Sound Tigers went 2-0-0-0 in the series and five of the last six meetings have gone past regulation dating back to Dec. 1, 2017.
VIEW FROM UTICA
Led by head coach Trent Cull, the Comets have won back-to-back games and are on a four-game point streak (2-0-0-2) that began last Friday against Bridgeport. Utica defeated the Toronto Marlies at home on Wednesday 6-4, in which Reid Boucher collected his league-leading 18th goal of the season and his fifth in the last seven games. He also extended his point streak to eight games (5g, 8a) and is now tied for the league lead in scoring with Belleville's Drake Batherson (31 points). Nikolay Goldobin added two assists and now has six points (4g, 2a) in the last three games. Justin Bailey saw his five-game goal streak come to an end, but pushed his point streak to six games with an assist (5g, 1a).
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Saturday's game marks the second of six meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bears this season, and the first of three at Giant Center in Hershey. Bridgeport leads the series 1-0-0-0 following a 3-2 regulation win at Webster Bank Arena on Nov. 23, in which Andrew Ladd (1g, 1a), Nick Schilkey (1g, 1a) and Sebastian Aho (2a) each had a multi-point night. The Sound Tigers went 3-2-0-1 against the Bears during the 2018-19 regular season and 2-1-0-0 in Chocolate Town. Bridgeport's last trip to Giant Center was Game 4 of the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs (first round; Apr. 25), in which Matt Lorito scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory.
VIEW FROM HERSHEY
Hershey enters the weekend ranked fourth in the Atlantic Division and on a four-game win streak, putting them just eight points out of the top spot. The Bears' current winning streak is their longest this season and Hershey will be much fresher on Saturday, as they don't play Friday night (the Sound Tigers will arrive in Chocolate Town around 3am). Last time out, Hershey earned a 3-2 overtime win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday, in which Yale product Joe Snively ended the contest at 2:50 of OT. The Bears are led in scoring by Mike Sgarbossa with 23 points (9g, 14a) in 24 games, which is also tied for 12th in the AHL overall.
Multiple Sound Tigers carry a scoring streak into the weekend, despite the mixed bag of results last week. Nick Schilkey is on a career-best three-game goal streak and is up to second on the team with six goals this season, trailing only Matt Lorito. Speaking of Lorito, his current five-game point streak (3g, 2a) is the longest for a Sound Tiger this season and Colin McDonald is actively on Bridgeport's longest assist streak this year (four games).
Sound Tigers captain Kyle Burroughs played his 300th professional game on Monday - all but 18 of them coming with Bridgeport in the AHL. Burroughs has 76 career points in 282 games with the Sound Tigers, and now sits fourth on the team's all-time games played list behind only Steve Regier, Jeremy Colliton and Mark Wotton.
Second-year forward Kieffer Bellows has four goals in his last six games and is now tied with rookie Arnaud Durandeau for third on the team in goal scoring (five). He leads the Sound Tigers in shots (63) and is also tied for seventh on the club in points (eight). Bellows was selected by the Islanders 19th overall at the 2016 NHL Draft and is still looking to make his NHL debut.
Bridgeport's penalty kill continues to rank in the top half of the league (82.7%, 13th), but the power play is 0-for-29 over its last seven games and has dropped to the bottom of the AHL (8.1%)... Sebastian Aho is tied for 14th among all AHL defensemen with 15 points (2g, 13a)... Oliver Wahlstrom is sixth among all league rookies in shots (55)... Andrew Ladd celebrated his 34th birthday yesterday... The Sound Tigers are 1-5-1-0 against North Division opponents this season... Cole Bardreau hasn't played since Nov. 23 against Hershey, but is on the trip this weekend... Utica has a power-play goal in 13 straight games.
NHL: New York Islanders (21-7-2) - Next: Tomorrow vs. Buffalo Sabres, 1 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (6-14-1-0) - Next: Tonight vs. Maine Mariners, 7:05 p.m. ET
Sound Tigers season tickets and flex plans are on sale now for the 2019-20 campaign, offering the greatest savings and ultimate flexibility of all ticket packages. Pick between a full-season, 20-game, or 10-game plan and you'll also be entitled to exclusive benefits, including the ticket holder exchange policy. Lock in your seats today by contacting Brad Dworin at 203-345-4813 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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