Sound Tigers Host Hershey in Game 2 Tonight
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers host the Hershey Bears tonight in Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals at 7 p.m. inside Webster Bank Arena. The Sound Tigers lead the best-of-five series 1-0 after a wild double-overtime victory last night at home, in which Kieffer Bellows scored the game-winner just after 11 p.m. It was Bellows' second goal of the night in his first professional playoff game, while Steve Bernier also had a crucial, game-tying tally late in the third period in his first AHL postseason contest. With the 3-2 win, the Sound Tigers hold their first playoff series lead in 13 years (Apr. 22, 2006) and last night's victory was also Bridgeport's first win in a postseason game since Apr. 18. 2010. The Sound Tigers haven't been up 2-0 in a series since Apr. 22, 2006, which they will look to accomplish tonight.
SOUND UP FOR THE CUP
Help the Sound Tigers push towards the Calder Cup with two value-packed ticket bundles that are on sale now. For just $20, get one (1) limited-edition "Sound Up for the Cup" playoff t-shirt and one (1) ticket to a first-round home game at Webster Bank Arena. In addition, a $25 package is available that includes one (1) Sound Tigers mason jar, one (1) hot dog, bag of chips, soda/beer, and one (1) ticket to a first-round home game. Click here for more information on packages, food and drink specials, and $12 group tickets.
TIGERS VS. BEARS
Each team won three of the six meetings during the regular season (14 goals apiece), but the Sound Tigers earned points in four of the six (3-2-0-1), including a 5-1 win at Webster Bank Arena on Feb. 24. Bridgeport went 1-1-0-1 at home during the season series and 2-1-0-0 at Giant Center. Michael Dal Colle and Steve Bernier led the Sound Tigers against the Bears with six points apiece during the regular season, while Mike Sgarbossa and Riley Barber collected six points each to pace Hershey. Bridgeport is 2-3-1 in six all-time playoff meetings against the Bears.
VIEW FROM HERSHEY
Spencer Carbery's club finished the regular season with three straight wins and on a four-game point streak, including a 3-1 victory against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday. Chris McCarthy, Joey Leach and Yale product Joe Snively scored three consecutive goals after Hartford potted the opening tally just 32 seconds in, while Ilya Samsonov (20-14-2) made 23 saves to get to 20 wins. Mike Sgarbossa led Hershey during the regular season with 65 points (30 goals, 35 assists), which was also tied for ninth in the AHL's scoring race, while Riley Barber had a team-best 31 goals (sixth in the league). In addition, former Sound Tigers captain Aaron Ness tallied 50 points and 55 assists to lead all AHL defensemen in both categories. The Bears have won 11 Calder Cup championships in franchise history, the most of any AHL team.
BELLOWS BREAKS THROUGH
Twenty-year-old rookie Kieffer Bellows was the hero in last night's double-overtime thriller that finished exactly four hours after the puck initially dropped. Bellows had 12 goals and 19 points in 73 regular-season games, including one other two-goal performance on Nov. 4 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The New York Islanders' 19th overall pick in 2016 became the first Sound Tiger to score a power-play goal in overtime of a playoff game. It was Bellows' first AHL playoff game - one of 11 Bridgeport players who put that nugget on their resume last night.
FORMER BEAR BITING BACK
Chris Bourque won three Calder Cups with Hershey over parts of nine seasons (2006, 2009, 2010), but now battles his former team in the playoffs for the third time in his career. Bourque, who led Bridgeport in points (54) and assists (39) during the regular season, faced Hershey with the Providence Bruins in 2013 and Hartford Wolf Pack in 2015 - and he won both times. The six-time all-star and AHL's active leading scorer (746 regular-season points) also ranks among the AHL's all-time playoff leaders in assists (83 = first) and points (118 = fourth) in 134 postseason appearances (second). He is fourth in Bears history in games played (603), third in assists (390), fifth in points (586) and seventh in goals (196). His younger brother, Ryan Bourque, is also a former Bear who helped Hershey reach the Calder Cup Finals in 2015.
THE 1-2 PUNCH
Only two AHL teams finished the regular season with two different 20-win goalies: Bridgeport and Hershey. Christopher Gibson paved the way for the Sound Tigers with 22 victories, including wins in each of his last three starts. Meanwhile, Jeremy Smith won 21 games and was named CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for December with a 7-1-0 record in eight appearances. AHL All-Star Vitek Vanecek earned 21 wins for the Bears and Ilya Samsonov won 20 games.
Otto Koivula finished the regular season fourth among league rookies with 21 goals and tied for seventh in scoring (46 points)... Sebastian Aho ranked seventh among AHL defensemen with 46 points (nine goals, 37 assists)... Steve Bernier finished the regular season fourth among all AHL players in shooting percentage (23.3%), while Michael Dal Colle was second (24.3%)... Grant Hutton has six points (one goals, five assists) in his last seven games... Bridgeport went 26-7-3-2 at home during the regular season (57 points), tied for the league lead with Charlotte and Syracuse... Bridgeport faced 42 one-goal outcomes during the regular season, second-most in the AHL (behind Rockford).... The Bears had 31... The Sound Tigers are 3-12-2 in playoff games since 2006.
NHL: NY Islanders (4-0) - Swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games during Round 1
ECHL: Worcester Railers (32-29-7-4) - Did not qualify for 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs
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