The Bridgeport Report: Week 20
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Josh Ho-Sang scored four times and added two assists last weekend as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (30-18-5-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, captured five points in a trio of divisional matchups. Andrew Ladd (one goal, four assists) and Thomas Hickey (two goals, two assists) also provided a huge spark in their conditioning stints, while Christopher Gibson won back-to-back outings and extended his winning streak to a season-high five games.
The Sound Tigers remain second in the Atlantic Division with 21 games left in the regular season - eight points outside of first and six points ahead of the third-place Hershey Bears. View the updated AHL standings.
Bridgeport opened its second straight "3-in-3" with an overtime setback to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday, despite two power-play goals and a third-period comeback in the 4-3 loss. Matt Lorito had two points (one goal, one assist) and Travis St. Denis tied the game in the final five minutes, while T.J. Brennan capped a two-point night (one goal, one assist) with the overtime winner for the Phantoms. Otto Koivula had the other tally for Bridgeport, part of a four-game goal streak that came to an end on Sunday.
Twenty-four hours later, Koivula's first overtime-winning goal in the AHL (with less than seven seconds remaining) gave the Sound Tigers a 4-3 victory against the Hartford Wolf Pack in their final meeting of the season. Ladd and Hickey each scored in their Bridgeport debuts, while Ho-Sang also tallied his third goal of the season at Webster Bank Arena on Saturday. It was the Sound Tigers' league-leading 12th win beyond regulation in their 19th overtime contest.
The Sound Tigers concluded their weekend on Sunday and made a statement in a 7-3 victory against the league-leading Charlotte Checkers at Webster Bank Arena. Ho-Sang tied a franchise record with five points (three goals, two assists) and scored his first professional (natural) hat trick, while Bridgeport recorded six unanswered goals to recover from an early deficit. The team's seven-goal performance was its most tallies in a game since Nov. 3 against Binghamton. Six Sound Tigers - Ho-Sang, Ladd, Hickey, Lorito, Sebastian Aho and Steve Bernier - registered a multi-point game on Sunday.
Bridgeport is off until Friday when the club begins another "3-in-3" this weekend. The Sound Tigers will face the Providence Bruins (27-19-6-1), Springfield Thunderbirds (22-22-6-4) and Hershey Bears (29-20-0-3), with the latter two games coming at home. 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:
Friday, Feb. 22 at Providence Bruins (7:05 p.m.): The Sound Tigers travel to Rhode Island for the fifth time this season to battle their most common opponent, the Providence Bruins. It also marks their 10th meeting overall in 2018-19. Bridgeport is 5-3-1-0 against Providence this season, but the Bruins have points in eight of the nine matchups (4-1-3-1). Five of the first nine games have gone past regulation.
Saturday, Feb. 23 vs. Springfield Thunderbirds (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers are 5-2-0-0 against Springfield this season and go for their fourth straight win against the T-Birds on Saturday. It's also Hockey Weekend in Connecticut, featuring a youth-jersey giveaway to the first 1,000 kids (14 years of age and younger), presented by JRC Transportation. In addition, meet-and-greets with prominent players and coaches from Connecticut's rich hockey history will take place all weekend long. Doors open at 6 p.m. and great seats are on sale now!
Sunday, Feb. 24 vs. Hershey Bears (3 p.m.): Bridgeport hosts Hershey for the second time this season with a Sunday matinee at Webster Bank Arena. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a bobblehead of Sound Tigers goaltender Christopher Gibson, presented by Newtown Savings Bank. In addition, take advantage of 50-cent chicken wings and $5 16oz. Budweiser products for those 21 and older at the Mason's Bar on the upper concourse. Doors open at 2 p.m. and great seats are still available.
News and Notes:
Ho-Sang Wins Player of the Week: Josh Ho-Sang was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Monday following his offensive explosion last weekend. The 23-year-old recorded six points (four goals, two assists), a plus-five rating, and his first pro hat trick in just two games. Ho-Sang had two goals in 37 AHL games this season before tripling that output over the weekend. He currently ranks fourth on the Sound Tigers with 32 points (six goals, 26 assists) in 39 games.
Going Streaking: Sebastian Aho quietly had five points (one goal, four assists) in three games last weekend and extended his point streak to a team-high five games. Aho's only goal stood as the game-winner on Sunday and came on his 23rd birthday. In addition, the two-time AHL All-Star is currently riding an eight-game point streak at home that began Jan. 21. He is third on the Sound Tigers in scoring with 36 points (five goals, 31 assists) this season, and eighth among all AHL defensemen. Aho is also third among league blue-liners in assists.
Lorito's Hot Start: Matt Lorito missed 51 games this season as he battled his way back from injury, but returned to the ice this month and has already made a big difference. Lorito, a two-time AHL All-Star who signed a two-year deal with the Islanders in July, has five points (one goal, four assists) in his first three games with Bridgeport, including back-to-back multi-point outings. He was second on the Grand Rapids Griffins in goals last season (23) and had 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 19 games during 2017 playoffs, helping the Griffins capture the 2017 Calder Cup championship.
When 60 Isn't Enough: The Sound Tigers have gone past regulation in three of their last four games and 19 times overall this season - second most in the AHL. Twelve of those games have resulted in victories, which leads the league. Bridgeport has been no stranger to close games this season and the team continues to lead the AHL in one-goal outcomes with 33 (21-5-5-2).
Quick Hits: Otto Koivula is fourth among AHL rookies in goals (17), shooting percentage (22.4%) and sixth in points (39)... He has also scored in four of his last five games... Steve Bernier scored his 54th career goal with the Sound Tigers on Sunday, grabbing sole possession of eighth place on the team's all-time list... Bridgeport improved to 9-1-1-0 in Sunday games... Christopher Gibson is tied for the league lead with three shootout wins.
Goals: Otto Koivula, Steve Bernier (17)
Assists: Chris Bourque (31)
Points: Chris Bourque (41)
Plus/Minus: Otto Koivula (+17)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (95)
Power-play goals: Steve Bernier (9)
Shots: Chris Bourque (124)
Wins: Christopher Gibson (16)
Former Sound Tigers Ryan Pulock, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson all scored in a 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, helping the first-place New York Islanders (35-0-0) match their win total from all of last season. The Isles also defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road last week in a 3-0 fin al, headlined two goals from former Sound Tiger Casey Cizikas and one from Josh Bailey. Bailey is second on the team in scoring with 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists), six behind NHL All-Star Mathew Barzal . Lee is third in points, but first in goals (19) through 58 games. The Islanders open a three-game road trip to Canada with a 9:30 p.m. ET matchup tonight against the Calgary Flames.
The ECHL's Worcester Railers H.C. (23-21-5-3) are in the midst of a seven-game road trip and won two of three games last weekend, stopping by Oklahoma and Texas. The Railers defeated the Allen Americans on Friday and Tulsa Oilers on Saturday, before falling to the Oilers in their last outing on Sunday, 6-3. Goalie Evan Buitenhuis , who signed an AHL contract with the Sound Tigers in November, went 2-0-0 with a 1.09 goals-against-average in three appearances and was named CCM/ECHL Goaltender of the Week on Monday. He also recorded his first pro shutout on Saturday with 47 saves in a 1-0 win at Tulsa. Worcester returns to action tonight with a 7 p.m. matchup at SNHU Arena against the Manchester Monarchs.
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