The Bridgeport Report: Week 20
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (19-29-5-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, collected three points in their last four games including a hard-fought win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last Saturday night.
Bridgeport remains eighth in the Atlantic Division standings with 22 games left in the regular season. The Sound Tigers are nine points behind the seventh-place Lehigh Valley Phantoms and 18 points behind the Charlotte Checkers, who currently hold the final playoff spot.
Two of the club's last four games took place against the Phantoms, but Lehigh Valley came out on top each night. On Friday, the Sound Tigers knew they'd get no love from Philadelphia's affiliate in a 3-2 overtime loss on Valentine's Day in Allentown, Penn. Travis St. Denis and Simon Holmstrom scored back-to-back goals to give the Sound Tigers a third-period lead, but Tyler Wotherspoon tied the game and Mikhail Vorobyev ended the night at 1:38 of overtime. Christopher Gibson was impressive in net, stopping 40 of 43 shots despite the loss.
Holmstrom lit the lamp again on Saturday, not once but two times, helping the Sound Tigers edge the Penguins 3-2 at Webster Bank Arena. It was Holmstrom's first multi-goal and multi-point performance in the AHL, and gave him four goals in his last four contests. Jared Coreau turned aside 34 shots to capture his third straight win and guide the Sound Tigers to a four-game unbeaten in regulation streak (3-0-1-0).
The Sound Tigers failed to push that streak any further on Monday in a 3-2 regulation loss to the Providence Bruins in Rhode Island. Otto Koivula and Colin McDonald each scored in the second period, but Brendan Gaunce put the Bruins on top for good late in the middle frame. Bridgeport fell to 4-5-0-0 overall against the Bruins.
Wednesday's game saw a wild, back-and-forth barn burner between the Sound Tigers and Phantoms at Webster Bank Arena, as Bridgeport opened a three-game homestand against a trio of division opponents. The Sound Tigers scored five times and five players notched a multi-point effort, but the club allowed eight goals for the first time since April 5, 2019 and dropped an 8-5 decision. Bridgeport recorded at least five goals for the fourth time this year, while Greg Carey and Carson Twarynski each had two goals for Lehigh Valley.
The Sound Tigers continue their homestand on this Saturday and Sunday with Hockey Weekend in Connecticut, featuring matchups against the first-place Hershey Bears (32-16-3-3) and second-place Hartford Wolf Pack (29-13-5-5). Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Saturday, Feb. 22 vs. Hershey Bears (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers face the Atlantic Division's top team on Saturday for the final time this season, looking to snap a four-game slide in the series. Hershey earned a 4-1 win at Webster Bank Arena in the last matchup on Jan. 31. Saturday's game also features the beginning of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut, including a youth jersey giveaway to the first 1,000 kids 12 and younger courtesy of JRC Transportation. In addition, the Connecticut Whale and Boston Pride of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) will face-off at 2 p.m. for the first ever NWHL/AHL doubleheader. Click here for tickets and more information.
Sunday, Feb. 23 vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (3 p.m.): Hockey Weekend in Connecticut concludes on Sunday with the seventh meeting of the season between the Sound Tigers and in-state rival Hartford. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will take home a bobblehead of Sound Tigers forward Steve Bernier, thanks to Newtown Savings Bank. Doors open at 2 p.m. Bridgeport is 1-3-2-0 against the Wolf Pack this season.
News and Notes:
Holm Sweet Holm: Simon Holmstrom scored twice against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last Saturday for his first multi-goal and multi-point game in the AHL. He added one assist on Wednesday and now has five points (four goals, one assist) in his last six games. Holmstrom is 13th on the Sound Tigers in scoring with 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 38 games as a rookie this season. He was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders.
Access Grant'ed: First-year defenseman Grant Hutton has seven points in his last six games (two goals, five assists) and was one of five Sound Tigers who recorded a multi-point effort on Wednesday. Hutton, a rookie out of Miami-Ohio, is third among Bridgeport blue liners in points (16) this season and has played alongside key defensemen Sebastian Aho, Parker Wotherspoon and Kyle Burroughs for much of the year.
Koivula Continues Connecting: Otto Koivula has scored in back-to-back games for the second time this season and currently has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last four outings. The second-year center from Nokia, Finland is tied for third on the Sound Tigers in offense (22 points) and has only played 36 AHL games this season due to call-ups with the New York Islanders. Koivula has played seven games with the Isles including his NHL debut on Nov. 16, but is still looking for his first NHL point.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers have only allowed one power-play goal in their last four games... Parker Wotherspoon, Travis St. Denis and Otto Koivula all hit the 20-point mark last weekend, while Wotherspoon is now just two points away from tying his career high (23 points last season)... David Quenneville and the New York Islanders' second-round pick in 2021 were traded to New Jersey on Sunday for veteran defenseman Andy Greene... Steve Bernier played his 900th professional game on Wednesday... He has played 263 AHL games with the Sound Tigers, Albany Devils, Worcester Sharks and Cleveland Barons, and 637 NHL games with the Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, and San Jose Sharks... Colin McDonald is expected to play his 900th pro game this Saturday.
Goals: Kieffer Bellows* (16)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (22)
Points: Sebastian Aho, Kieffer Bellows* (24)
Plus/Minus: Robert Carpenter (+2)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (80)
Power Play Goals: 3 Tied (3)
Shots: Kieffer Bellows* (118)
Wins: Jared Coreau (10)
* = Currently playing with the New York Islanders
The New York Islanders (33-20-6) went 0-for-4 on their Western Conference road trip that concluded Wednesday night with a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. The Isles only scored two goals during that span, one of which came from former Sound Tiger Brock Nelson in the final three minutes against the Avalanche. New York also fell to Nashville, Vegas and Arizona on their recent trip and dropped to fourth place in the Metro Division and second in the Wild Card. The Islanders return to NYCB Live on Friday with a 8 p.m. matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Worcester Railers (17-32-3-0) saw their losing streak hit nine games on Wednesday in a 5-1 setback to the Jacksonville Icemen in Florida. Islanders prospect Jakub Skarek made 20 saves on 25 shots for the Railers. Worcester is back in action this Friday and Saturday with a weekend doubleheader against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in Greenville, South Carolina.
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