Sound Tigers Host T-Birds, Senators this Weekend
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-16-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, look to extend their five-game win streak and 10-game unbeaten streak at Webster Bank Arena (8-0-1-1) this weekend with a pair of home games against the Springfield Thunderbirds (21-24-1-1) and Belleville Senators (18-24-1-3). It all kicks off this evening with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Thunderbirds - their third meeting in the last nine days. The Sound Tigers headed into the All-Star break with a 3-1 defeat of the Hershey Bears on Saturday, led by forward Scott Eansor (two goals) and goaltender Christopher Gibson (32 saves). Gibson also notched his third career point with an assist on Eansor's first tally of the night. It was Bridgeport's fourth win in its last five games overall.
The game marked the eighth of 10 meetings between the Sound Tigers and T-Birds this season, and the fourth of five matchups at Webster Bank Arena. Remarkably, the home team has won each of the first seven contests this year, including Bridgeport's 3-1 victory in the Park City just nine days ago. Travis St. Denis scored his 10th goal of the season that evening, and John Stevens and Josh Holmstrom also chipped in, while Kristers Gudlevskis made 19 saves on 20 shots in net. However, Springfield took the last tilt one week ago with a 5-3 decision at MassMutual Center. Former Sound Tiger Anthony Greco scored twice for the T-Birds and now has seven goals in seven games against Bridgeport this season.
Geordie Kinnear's club returns from the All-Star break with back-to-back wins and a 7-3-0-0 record over its last 10 games. That success has pulled Springfield out of the Atlantic Division's basement for the first time this season as February rolls around. In their last outing on Saturday, All-Star forward Alexandre Grenier scored twice and Anthony Greco notched a goal for the third consecutive game (four goals total during that span) in a 5-2 defeat of the Providence Bruins at home. Maxim Mamin also contributed with three assists for the second time this season before he was recalled by the Florida Panthers on Monday. Grenier leads Springfield with 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 47 games, while Greco paces the club with 18 goals in 46 appearances. Greco also leads the AHL in shots (155) and shorthanded goals (four).
Saturday's 7 p.m. contest features the inaugural meeting between the Sound Tigers and Senators, and the first of two matchups this season. It is the only game between the two clubs at Webster Bank Arena, as Bridgeport will travel to Belleville, Ont. for the first time on Mar. 3. The Sound Tigers went 3-0-1-0 against the Ottawa Senators' AHL affiliate last season (the Binghamton Senators) before the team was relocated north of the border last summer.
The Senators enter the weekend on a four-game slide (0-3-1-0) and sixth place in the North Division standings, one point behind the fifth-place Laval Rocket. Belleville went into the All-Star break with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Rochester Americans last Saturday, in which Nick Paul, Gabriel Gagne and Jim O'Brien each scored and Danny Taylor made 36 saves between the pipes. It snapped a five-game win streak when going beyond regulation. The Senators are led by fourth-year forward Max McCormick with 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 44 games, while Gagne paces the club with 15 goals. Belleville also plays a very rough and physical style of hockey, and the team currently leads the AHL in penalty minutes (846) and game misconducts (10). Belleville opens a two-game series against the Binghamton Devils on Friday prior to visiting the Park City on Saturday.
Five of the next six games and eight of the next 11 will take place at Webster Bank Arena, where the Sound Tigers are playing some of their best hockey. Bridgeport's 10-game unbeaten streak on home ice is tied for the third longest in franchise history - three off the team record set back in 2003 (10-0-2-1). The Sound Tigers have not lost in regulation since a 4-1 defeat against the Rochester Americans on Dec. 10.
Rookie defenseman Mitch Vande Sompel and fifth-year goaltender Christopher Gibson represented the Sound Tigers at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic last weekend in Utica, N.Y. Vande Sompel, who leads all Sound Tigers defensemen with 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) this season, scored three goals in the All-Star Challenge Monday night and took part in the Hardest Shot competition on Sunday, hitting more than 94 miles per hour on the radar gun. For Gibson, it was also a well-deserved honor as he currently ranks 11th in the AHL in goals-against-average (2.45) and is tied for sixth in wins (16).
QUICK HITS: The Sound Tigers have outshot their opponent 33 times in 44 games this season (75.0%)... Bridgeport is 15-12-4-2 when recording more shots than the opponent... The Sound Tigers' penalty kill is second in the AHL overall (87.4%) and 10th in the League at home (85.3%)... Scott Eansor's game-winning goal on Saturday was the first of his pro career... It was the third time this season he has scored twice in a game... Eansor is tied for third among AHL rookies with 16 goals this season.
About the Bridgeport Sound Tigers: Founded in 2001, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Hockey Club is the top minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders. Don't miss your chance to take part in the family fun entertainment happening every home game at Webster Bank Arena.
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