Sound Tigers Look to Extend Win Streak against T-Birds, Bears
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (January 26, 2018) - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-15-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, looked to extend their winning ways this weekend in a two-game series against the Springfield Thunderbirds (19-24-1-1) and Hershey Bears (17-19-3-4) before the AHL's All-Star Break. The Sound Tigers have won three games in a row for the fourth time this season, including a 3-1 victory against Springfield on Wednesday. John Stevens, Travis St. Denis and Josh Holmstrom each scored in a steady, 60-minute effort, and Kristers Gudlevskis made 19 saves to backstop his second straight win. In addition, Bridgeport continued to play terrific hockey at home and extended its unbeaten in regulation streak at Webster Bank Arena to nine games (7-0-1-1) - four shy of the franchise record.
VIEW FROM SPRINGFIELD: The Thunderbirds went 2-11-1-0 in their first 14 games, but are 17-13-0-1 since Nov. 11 and have nearly climbed out of the Atlantic Division's basement. Geordie Kinnear's team won five straight games earlier this month, but Springfield has lost three in a row entering tonight's contest, including a 2-0 setback to the Providence Bruins on Sunday prior to Wednesday's loss in Bridgeport. Despite suffering the loss, goaltender Samuel Montembeault was impressive with a career-high 47 saves on 48 shots and climbed to fifth in the AHL in minutes played this season (1,662). Montembeault was recalled by the Florida Panthers on Wednesday morning and did not face the Sound Tigers.
TIGERS VS. BEARS: Saturday's game marks the third of six matchups between the Sound Tigers and Bears this season, and the second of three meetings at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport has played consistent hockey against Hershey this year and the club is 2-0-0-0 in the series, including a 3-1 win in Bridgeport on Dec. 27. Liam O'Brien struck first for the Bears just 1:38 into the contest, but Scott Eansor, Michael Dal Colle and Tanner Fritz each responded and Christopher Gibson made 21 saves on 22 shots.
VIEW FROM HERSHEY: Troy Mann's club enters the weekend on a six-game losing streak (0-3-2-1) and has dropped to seventh place in the Atlantic Division standings. Last time out, the Bears were blanked for the fourth time this season in a 4-0 setback to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday. Veteran scoring threat Chris Bourque was kept in check and had just one shot in the contest, but continues to lead the AHL with 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) in 43 games and is fourth in the League in helpers. The Bears visit Providence tonight before swinging by Webster Bank Arena on Saturday.
Kristers Gudlevskis has won back-to-back games for the first time this season and is expected to play in tonight's game - his third consecutive start. The fifth-year goaltender has stopped 44 of the last 45 shots he's faced, including a 25-save shutout of the Toronto Marlies last Sunday, in which he became just the 19th AHL netminder to play through 65 minutes, plus a shootout, with an entirely blank sheet. He is up to 16th in the League with a 2.58 goal-against-average.
The American Hockey League announced Wednesday that defenseman Mitch Vande Sompel and goaltender Christopher Gibson have been added to the playing roster for its 2018 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Casino Resort in Utica, N.Y. on Monday. They replace Tanner Fritz and Sebastian Aho, who were initially selected to the event but will be unavailable due to call-ups with the New York Islanders. Vande Sompel leads all Sound Tigers defensemen with 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) in 37 games and is third on the team in scoring overall. He's also tied for ninth among AHL rookies in assists and has gone 2-for-2 in shootout attempts, scoring the game-deciding goal each time. Meanwhile, Gibson is tied for sixth in the League with 15 wins and is 7-2-2 over his last 11 outings. He also ranks ninth in minutes played (1,461) and 12th in goals-against-average (2.51).
Down-to-the-wire finishes are becoming a theme for the Sound Tigers. Three of their last four games, and seven of the last nine, have been decided by just one tally and Bridgeport is now tied for second in the AHL with 23 one-goal outcomes this season (trailing Utica with 25). The Sound Tigers are 11-6-4-2 when games are decided by just one goal.
The Islanders loaned forwards Tanner Fritz, Michael Dal Colle and Ross Johnston to Bridgeport this morning, but none of the three are expected to play in tonight's game against Springfield... Johnston scored his first NHL in Thursday's 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Center... The Sound Tigers have outshot their opponent 32 times in 42 games this season (76.2%), including four straight contests... Bridgeport is 15-11-4-2 when recording more shots than the opponent... The Sound Tigers' penalty kill is second in the AHL overall (87.4%) and fourth on the road (88.9%).
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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