The Bridgeport Report: Week 21
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (19-30-5-2), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, finished a three-game homestand last weekend with one point in two games against a couple of Atlantic Division frontrunners.
The Sound Tigers kicked off Hockey Weekend in Connecticut on Saturday with a 5-4 shootout loss to the first-place Hershey Bears, but earned a point thanks to Simon Holmstrom's fifth goal in seven games. Holmstrom's game-tying tally came with just 2:22 left in the third period, while Matt Lorito, Oliver Wahlstrom and Colin McDonald all recorded power-play goals. Bridgeport was a perfect 3-for-3 on the man advantage. Parker Wotherspoon added a career-high three assists in the setback and Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Hickey both returned from injury.
Less than 24 hours later, Bridgeport ended its weekend with a 4-1 loss to the second-place Hartford Wolf Pack at Webster Bank Arena. Josh Ho-Sang got the Sound Tigers on the board early with a power-play tally - the team's fourth consecutive power play that resulted in a goal - but Hartford responded with four unanswered goals to end the afternoon. Sebastian Aho had another assist for the Sound Tigers, extending his point streak to three games (three assists) in front of 5,427 fans.
The Sound Tigers open a three-in-three series on Friday night with a road game in Springfield, Mass. against the Thunderbirds (30-24-2-0). Bridgeport returns home for a Saturday-Sunday set of games against Hartford (30-14-6-5) and the North Division's Binghamton Devils (27-24-4-0). Springfield and Binghamton are both within three points of a playoff spot as the calendar flips to March this weekend. Each contest can be heard live on the Sound Tigers Radio Network or viewed on AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Friday, Feb. 28 at Springfield (7:05 p.m.): The Sound Tigers will make the brief trip up I-91 for their 11th matchup against Springfield this season. Bridgeport is 4-5-1-0 against the T-Birds so far and 1-4-0-0 inside the MassMutual Center. Springfield enters the week just two points outside of a playoff spot and its dynamic was completely changed on Monday, adding forward Eetu Luostarinen and defensemen Emil Djuse and Chase Priskie. The Florida Panthers traded Carolina for Luostarinen and Priskie (along with Erik Haul and Lucas Wallmark) for Vincent Trocheck, while acquiring Djuse from Dallas for a 2020 sixth-round pick. Priskie is 12th among all AHL defensemen in scoring (31 points).
Saturday, Feb. 29 vs. Hartford (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers will face their in-state rival for the eighth time this season and the fourth of six meetings inside Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 1-4-2-0 in the series entering Saturday's tilt, which also features Marvel Super Hero Night and Scout Night. Meet Spider-Man, Hulk, Black Widow and Thor throughout the game, and all scout groups are invited to spend the night following the 7 p.m. contest. Please contact John Reis at 203-345-4848 for more information on Scout Night.
Sunday, Mar. 1 vs. Binghamton (5 p.m.): Bridgeport hosts New Jersey's affiliate on Sunday for the only time this season, which is also their first matchup since the Devils earned a 3-1 win in Binghamton, N.Y. on Jan. 3. Colin McDonald scored the Sound Tigers' lone goal that night. Fans are encouraged to attend the game with the popular Sunday Family 4-Pack, featuring four (4) tickets, four (4) hot dogs or slices of pizza, four (4) soft drinks, four (4) bags of chips and a pair of (2) autographed pucks for just $89. Click here to reserve yours!
News and Notes:
Deadline Deal: The New York Islanders acquired defenseman Jordan Schmaltz from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday in exchange for Matt Lorito as the NHL trade deadline passed at 3 p.m. ET. Schmaltz, a fifth-year pro, had 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 37 games with the Toronto Marlies this season and has 106 points (17 goals, 89 assists) in 217 career AHL games spanning five seasons with Toronto, San Antonio and Chicago. He is expected to join Bridgeport this week. Lorito was fourth on the Sound Tigers in scoring with 23 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 50 games this season.
900 Club: Steve Bernier and Colin McDonald each played in their 900th professional games last week, joining a distinct club that not many players reach. Bernier made his 900th appearance on Wednesday while skating in his fourth season with the Sound Tigers and 15th season overall. He has played in the NHL with the Islanders, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers. McDonald's 900th came on Saturday - 749 in the AHL, 148 in the NHL and three in the ECHL. McDonald is in his third season with Bridgeport (spanning two different stints) and his 13th pro season overall.
Clutterbuck Returns: Cal Clutterbuck joined the Sound Tigers on conditioning over the weekend and played in both games against Hershey and Hartford. He was recalled by the Islanders on Monday and had four penalty minutes, no points and an even rating with Bridgeport. Clutterbuck was recovering from a wrist laceration that occurred Dec. 19 in a game against the Boston Bruins and hadn't played in the AHL since Oct. 13, 2008 (Houston). Thomas Hickey also returned from injury on Saturday after missing 31 games due to a lower-body injury sustained on Nov. 29.
Quick Hits: Sebastian Aho has recorded an assist in the last seven home games he's played, the second-longest streak in the AHL this season... That streak began Dec. 27 against Hartford... Grant Hutton has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his last eight games... Sound Tigers leading goal scorer, Kieffer Bellows, was returned on loan by the Islanders on Monday, while Andrew Ladd was recalled by New York... Ladd will remain with the Islanders for the rest of the season... Oliver Wahlstrom is third among AHL rookies in shootout percentage (2-for-3, 66.7%).
Goals: Kieffer Bellows (16)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (24)
Points: Sebastian Aho (26)
Plus/Minus: Robert Carpenter (+2)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (95)
Power Play Goals: Otto Koivula (4)
Shots: Kieffer Bellows (118)
Wins: Jared Coreau (10)
The New York Islanders (35-20-6) won two of three games last week to remain fourth in the Metropolitan Division heading into tonight's tilt with the New York Rangers. They also got stronger on Monday, acquiring Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators for a conditional first-round pick in 2020, the club's second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional third-round selection in 2022. New York immediately signed Pageau to a six-year contract extension. The Isles beat the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, 4-1, led by Jordan Eberle's third career hat trick and his first with New York. They also raised John Tonelli's number 27 into the rafters that night, before beating the San Jose Sharks 4-1 on Sunday. Former Sound Tigers forward Anders Lee scored twice against the Sharks.
The ECHL's Worcester Railers (18-33-4-0) registered three points in three games last weekend while finishing up a southern road trip through Florida and South Carolina. The Railers fell to the Jacksonville Icemen, 5-1, earlier in the week but bounced back with a 4-2 win against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Friday. The club suffered a 4-1 loss in a rematch with Greenville on Saturday and ended the weekend with a 6-5 loss against the South Carolina Stingrays on Sunday. Former Sound Tiger Nic Pierog had two goals on the weekend and now leads the team with 35 points (22 goals, 13 assists) and is tied for the team lead in goals. Ben Thomson also scored once on the weekend. The Railers return home for a three-in-three series this weekend, hosting Brampton, South Carolina and Reading.
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