Sound Tigers Hungry for Points against Bruins
BRIDGEPORTâ, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (14-22-4-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, face the Providence Bruins (22-15-1-2) in a home-and-home series this weekend, starting with a 7:05 p.m. matchup at the Dunkin' Donuts Center tonight. The slate concludes on Saturday with Star Wars Night at 7 p.m. inside Webster Bank Arena.
LAST TIME OUT
Bridgeport is coming off of its best offensive performance of the season, a 6-4 victory against the Laval Rocket on Sunday at Webster Bank Arena. Otto Koivula scored his first AHL hat trick, and Kieffer Bellows and Nick Schilkey each added one goal and two assists. Ryan Bourque also scored for the second straight game, while Jared Coreau (6-11-1) stopped 26 shots to help the Sound Tigers snap a seven-game slide.
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BE THERE, YOU MUST
Saturday's 7 p.m. rematch is Star Wars Night at Webster Bank Arena, featuring a $25 ticket package that includes access to the hockey game, a movie voucher to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, or another movie of your choice at any local Bow Tie Cinemas location. This package is only available prior to 2 p.m. ET on Saturday. In addition, the first 2,500 fans will receive a lightsaber and your favorite Star Wars characters will be roaming the concourse throughout the night. Tickets are on sale now !
TIGERS VS. BRUINS
Friday's game is the fifth of 12 meetings between the Sound Tigers and Bruins this season and the third straight in Rhode Island. Providence leads the series 3-1-0-0, including two wins at Webster Bank Arena on Oct. 22 and Nov. 9, and a 5-0 victory in their last tilt on Nov. 22. Brendan Gaunce scored twice that night and Max Lagace made 17 saves for one of his league-leading five shutouts. In fact, three of the first four matchups have resulted in a shutout. Lagace also blanked Bridgeport with 30 saves on Oct. 22 and the Sound Tigers earned a 2-0 win on Nov. 11, led by Christopher Gibson's clean sheet (32 saves).
VIEW FROM PROVIDENCE
The Bruins are on a two-game win streak entering the weekend and tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with the Charlotte Checkers. In their last outing on Sunday, the Bruins earned a 5-3 victory against the Springfield Thunderbirds at home, led by two goals from veteran forward Brendan Woods. Max Lagace (14-6-2) made 21 saves on 24 shots and now ranks 12th among all AHL netminders with a 2.49 GAA. Paul Carey leads Providence with 15 goals and 28 points, while Jack Studnicka is second with 14 goals and 26 points. Studnicka is also fifth among all AHL rookies in goals and sixth among rookies in scoring. Lagace is tied for fourth in wins (14) and leads the league in shutouts (5).
Kieffer Bellows has 14 points (11g, 3a) in his last 15 games dating back to Dec. 9. During that span, he was named CCM/AHL Player of the Month for December and has vaulted into first place on Bridgeport's scoring list - tied with Sebastian Aho (21 points). Bellows leads the Sound Tigers in total goals (15), power-play goals (3) and shots (104) during his second professional season. He has scored in seven of his last eight home games, including six straight from Nov. 29 - Dec. 28 (a franchise record).
Otto Koivula had nine points (4g, 5a) in his last eight AHL games prior to being recalled by the Islanders again on Monday. That hot streak included his first North American hat trick on Sunday against Laval. Koivula had just two goals in his first 19 games of the season, but has four in his last five games dating back to New Year's Eve. Koivula ended last season tied for second on the Sound Tigers in scoring (46 points) and ranked fourth among AHL rookies in goals (21). He was recalled by the Islanders for the first time in his career on Oct. 30 and made his NHL debut on Nov. 16 at Philadelphia.
ROAD LESS TRAVELED
The Sound Tigers are earned points in five of their last six home games (4-0-1-0), but the team's record on the road has been hurting all season. Bridgeport has lost seven straight away from Webster Bank Arena and has been outscored 79-41 on the road overall. Bridgeport is 5-15-2-0 on the road, where the club will play three of its next four games.
Ryan Bourque is on a team-best three-game point streak (2g, 1a)... Bridgeport is 3-0-0-0 when scoring at least five goals in a contest and 7-1-0-0 when scoring at least four... The Sound Tigers are 6-1-0-0 when leading after the first period... Bridgeport's power play continues to rank at the bottom of the AHL, but has scored in three of its last four games... Brent Thompson is three games shy of his 500th as an AHL head coach (all with Bridgeport)... Sunday's game was the second time this season the Sound Tigers have built a 3-0 lead to begin a contest.
NHL: New York Islanders (28-14-4) - Next: Tomorrow vs. Washington Capitals, 1 p.m. ET
ECHL: Worcester Railers (15-21-2-0) - Next: Tomorrow at Adirondack Thunder, 7 p.m. ET
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