The Bridgeport Report: Week 15
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-12-4-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, recorded two points in as many games last weekend as the team began the second half of its 2018-19 schedule. Fourth-year forward Tanner Fritz led the way with three points during the two-game stretch, while Parker Wotherspoon scored an overtime winner and added one assist.
Wotherspoon's heroics came in a 4-3 win against the Utica Comets at the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday, leading the Sound Tigers to their first win of 2019. The Islanders' fourth-round pick in 2015 netted his first career overtime-winning goal with less than 36 seconds left in the extra session.
Chris Casto, Yannick Rathgeb and Fritz also scored in regulation as the Sound Tigers snapped a three-game winless streak and took the first of two meetings against the Comets this season. Josh Ho-Sang added two primary assists in his first AHL game since Dec. 8, while Jeremy Smith (12-7-2) stopped 31 of 34 shots to backstop his fifth win in his last seven starts at the time.
The schedule shifted back to Connecticut on Saturday as the Sound Tigers hosted the Hartford Wolf Pack for their first home game of 2019, but came up short in a 4-2 loss at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport received goals from a pair of defensemen, Mitch Vande Sompel and Kyle Burroughs, but was unable to extend its point streak at home beyond 15 games as they faced the New York Rangers affiliate in front of 6,622 fans. Between the pipes, Smith made 25 saves during the team's annual Military Appreciation Night. It was Bridgeport's first regulation loss at home in nearly three months (since Oct. 13).
The Sound Tigers remain second in the AHL (by points) with 50 tallies in 39 games, nine points behind the first-place Charlotte Checkers (28-9-3-0), who Bridgeport will battle in back-to-back games this week. The league's top two teams will clash Tuesday and Wednesday and Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina before the Sound Tigers return to the Northeast this weekend. Bridgeport will host the Providence Bruins (18-16-6-0) on Saturday and the Hershey Bears (17-20-0-2) on Sunday to conclude its busy four-game week.
Fans can follow all of the action online via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes before each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Tuesday, Jan. 15 at Charlotte Checkers (7 p.m.): Bridgeport travels to North Carolina for the second time in less than a month to face the AHL's top team in a back-to-back, mid-week slate of games. It's another installment of the league's best two clubs (by points) and the fourth of eight meetings between the Sound Tigers and Carolina Hurricanes' affiliate. Bridgeport is 2-1-0-0 in the series, but the teams split a two-game series at Bojangles Coliseum on Dec. 21-22.
Wednesday, Jan. 16 at Charlotte Checkers (7 p.m.): The Atlantic Division rivals square off for the second time in as many nights this Wednesday, which also features the fourth and final meeting in North Carolina this season. Bridgeport went 1-3-0-0 in the Queen City last year.
Saturday, Jan. 19 vs. Providence Bruins (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers host Providence for their popular Star Wars Night, featuring a 7 p.m. puck drop at Webster Bank Arena. The first 3,000 fans receive a free lightsaber and everyone in attendance is encouraged to meet Star Wars characters on the concourse. A $25 ticket package is on sale now (online or over the phone only), which includes access to the game and a food voucher valid for one (1) hot dog, one (1) soft drink, one (1) bag of chips and one (1) guaranteed lightsaber. Fans may call the Sound Tigers front office at 203-345-2300 ext. 7 or CLICK HERE to purchase!
Sunday, Jan. 20 vs. Hershey Bears (3 p.m.): The Sound Tigers face Hershey for just the second time this season, and the first of three matchups in the Park City. The first 2,000 fans will take home a set of Sound Tigers trading cards, presented by TBNG Consulting, which feature notable Islanders prospects like Josh Ho-Sang, Scott Eansor, Travis St. Denis and more. In addition, take advantage of 50-cent chicken wings and $5 16oz. drafts and cans of beer at the Mason's Bar. Take are on sale now!
News and Notes:
Fritz Focused: Tanner Fritz led the Sound Tigers with three points (one goal, two assists) in two games last weekend and now has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last five outings. The 27-year-old forward is up to fourth on the team in helpers (16), fourth in multi-point games (seven), and tied for sixth in points (22), despite playing just 33 AHL games due to call-ups with the Islanders. Fritz collected one assist in four NHL games earlier this season.
Streaking Into a New Week: A trio of Sound Tigers enter this week's action on a three-game point streak, including Travis St. Denis, Mitch Vande Sompel, and the AHL's active leading scorer, Chris Bourque. St. Denis has three points (one goal, two assists) during that stretch and is tied for sixth on the team in scoring, while Vande Sompel has four points (one goal, three assists) and currently ranks second in scoring among Sound Tigers defensemen. In addition, Bourque has three assists in as many games, but hasn't scored since Dec. 21 at Charlotte - a stretch of nine contests without a goal (his longest such streak with Bridgeport).
Otto-matic: Rookie power forward Otto Koivula had a remarkable first half of his first pro season in North America. The Islanders' fourth-round pick in 2016 scored in each of the first three games of 2019 (part of a five-game goal-scoring tear) and continues to lead all active players on the Sound Tigers with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists). Koivula is tied for fifth among rookie goal-scorers in the AHL, eighth among first-year point-getters, and sixth among league rookies in plus-minus (+13).
Hey Now, You're An All-Star: The AHL announced its playing rosters for the 2019 Lexus All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield on Jan. 3, which included two Sound Tigers selections. Michael Dal Colle (currently on recall with the Islanders) received his first All-Star bid and Sebastian Aho was selected for the second time in as many seasons. Dal Colle leads the Sound Tigers in goals (16) and points (28) in 28 games this season and was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Dec. 17. Meanwhile, Aho became just the fourth Sound Tiger to earn back-to-back All-Star selections and the first since Ryan Pulock (2015, 2016). Aho leads Bridgeport with 21 assists and is fifth among all AHL defensemen in scoring (24 points). The 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic will be held Jan. 27-28 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers have played 25 one-goal games, most among all teams in the AHL... Bridgeport is 11-4-2-0 in the next game following a loss this season... The club is 15-0-0-1 when scoring at least four goals in a game... The Sound Tigers are outscoring opponents by 11 goals at five-on-five this season... The Sound Tigers' 43 first-period goals are fifth-most in the league... Bridgeport has been outshot in 15 straight games, dating back to Dec. 5.
Goals: Michael Dal Colle* (16)
Assists: Josh Ho-Sang (22)
Points: Michael Dal Colle* (28)
Plus/Minus: Otto Koivula (+13)
Penalty Minutes: Travis St. Denis (68)
Power-play goals: Steve Bernier (8)
Shots: Kieffer Bellows, Chris Bourque (90)
Wins: Jeremy Smith (12)
*Currently playing with the New York Islanders (NHL)
The New York Islanders (25-15-4) powered their way to a statement win on Sunday, earning a 5-1 victory against the NHL's top team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Former Sound Tigers Brock Nelson and Devon Toews scored two of the Isles three goals in the opening five minutes, while Bridgeport alums Casey Cizikas and Josh Bailey added tallies later on. It helped the Isles go 2-2-0 last week, which also included a 4-3 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. The Islanders have won eight of their last 10 games and continue to sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division through 44 games. The club returns to action on Tuesday with a 7 p.m. matchup against the St. Louis Blues at Barclays Center.
The ECHL's Worcester Railers H.C. (16-16-3-2) moved back to .500 with a pair of wins last weekend, including a 4-2 victory against the Manchester Monarchs at the DCU Center on Sunday. Former Sound Tigers David Quenneville and Matt Gaudreau, who was sent down for the game but recalled by Bridgeport again on Monday, each found the back of the net, while Mitch Gillam made 25 saves for his 10th win of the year. Gaudreau now boasts a three-game point streak in the ECHL (two goal, two assists). Worcester returns to action this Friday with a 7:05 p.m. home matchup against Toronto's new affiliate, the Newfoundland Growlers.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers will boast one of their most extensive and wide-ranging promotional schedules ever for the 2018-19 season. The fan-friendly calendar includes the return of popular themes like Star Wars Night (Jan. 19), Princess Night (Mar. 30) and Hockey and Hops (Mar. 17), while regional hockey fans will be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24). View the full 2018-19 promotional schedule.
For additional details or to reserve a group outing for any giveaway or theme night, please call the Sound Tigers' front office at (203) 345-2300 ext 7.
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