The Bridgeport Report: Week 23
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-33-5-2), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, won two of their three games last weekend in a journey through Pennsylvania that featured stops against Atlantic Division rivals. It was Bridgeport's eighth "three-in-three" this season and their second in consecutive weekends.
Both wins were established by a high-powered offense that scored six times against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday and again in a rematch on Sunday. Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, Nic Pierog and Robert Carpenter all scored twice and newcomer Terry Broadhurst had two points on the weekend, plus the shootout winner in Sunday's come-from-behind, 6-5 win inside PPL Center.
The Sound Tigers began the grind against Phantoms on Friday and netted six goals for the second time in a week to outlast Lehigh Valley, 6-4, in a back-and-forth affair. Bellows scored twice to become the first Sound Tigers player to eclipse the 20-goal mark, while Wahlstrom, Pierog, Carpenter and former Lehigh Valley captain Colin McDonald also found the back of the net. Morgan Frost had two goals for Philadelphia's affiliate.
On Saturday, the Sound Tigers traveled further up I-476 and clashed with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the final time this season. Special teams played a key role in the outcome and the Penguins scored twice on eight power-play opportunities and defeated Bridgeport, 5-2. Wahlstrom and Seth Helgeson (first goal since Oct. 28, 2018) were the goal scorers for the Sound Tigers in a game that lasted nearly three hours at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
Bridgeport bounced back on Sunday and ended its weekend with perhaps its most thrilling come-from-behind effort of the season. Down three goals nearly midway through the third period, Broadhurst, Pierog and Carpenter all scored in a span of 5:26 to tie the game before Wahlstrom and Broadhurst both capitalized in a two-round shootout to steal the victory. Islanders prospects Travis St. Denis (one goal, two assists) and Grant Hutton (three assists) also played a major role in the win that pushed the Sound Tigers above the 50-point mark.
The Sound Tigers return to action tomorrow night and open a five-game homestand at Webster Bank Arena, which runs through March 21 and ties the longest stretch of consecutive home games this season. Bridgeport hosts the Toronto Marlies at 7 p.m. on Wednesday before preparing for the Hartford Wolf Pack and Springfield Thunderbirds this Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.) for Stick It To Cancer Weekend. Fans can also follow all of the action online via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed puck drop.
The week ahead:
Wednesday, Mar. 11 vs. Toronto (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers face the Toronto Maple Leafs' affiliate for the first of two matchups this season. Bridgeport went 1-0-1-0 against the Marlies in 2018-19. The Marlies are 3-7-0-0 in their last 10 games and have slipped back to seventh place in the North Division standings, falling seven points out of a playoff spot with 16 games remaining.
Saturday, Mar. 14 vs. Hartford (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers renew their rivalry with Hartford on Saturday to open Stick It To Cancer Weekend at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 1-5-2-0 against Hartford this season and the Wolf Pack have won four straight meetings dating back to Dec. 31, including a 3-1 win in their last tilt on Feb. 29.
Sunday, Mar. 15 vs. Springfield (3 p.m.): Bridgeport and the Springfield Thunderbirds complete their 12-game season series on Sunday with the sixth and final matchup at Webster Bank Arena. The Sound Tigers are 5-5-1-0 against the T-Birds and earned a 6-3 win in their last contest on Feb. 28, led by Kieffer Bellows' two tallies and a four-goal second period in Massachusetts.
News and Notes:
Sticking It To Cancer: Some things are much bigger than hockey. This weekend, the Sound Tigers will continue their efforts in the fight against adult and pediatric cancers, including the support of local organizations: The Danni Kemp Cancer Support Fund, Infinite Love For Kids Fighting Cancer, LIVFree, Ryan's Rebels and Camp Rising Sun. The first 2,000 fans on Saturday will receive a thunder stick noisemaker presented by Yale New Haven Health and the first 1,000 fans on Sunday afternoon will take home a limited-edition t-shirt presented by Sound Tigers community sponsors. Enjoy both games with a weekend package that includes one (1) ticket to each contest and the guaranteed giveaway for just $30. Click here for more information!
Back in Bridgeport: The Sound Tigers begin a five-game homestand this week, which ties the club's longest of the season. Bridgeport also played five straight games at home Nov. 2-10. The Sound Tigers are 11-14-2-2 at Webster Bank Arena this season and will look to end a five-game slide on Wednesday, dating back to Feb. 19.
Scoring in Bunches: Bridgeport has scored six goals in a game four different times this season, but two of those efforts came last weekend against Lehigh Valley. Three of the four have come in the last six games. Thirteen different players had a point in Friday's 6-4 win in Allentown, including goaltender Christopher Gibson who logged his sixth career assist with the Sound Tigers - second on the team's all-time list, one behind Rick DiPietro.
Broadhurst Shines in Debut: Veteran forward Terry Broadhurst was impressive in his debut weekend with the Sound Tigers after he was acquired from the Charlotte Checkers at the AHL's trade deadline last week. Broadhurst had a point in two of the three games (one goal, one assist), including a third-period tally against Lehigh Valley on Friday that sparked the remarkable three-goal comeback. He ended that game with the shootout winner - his first attempt of the year. Broadhurst is in his eighth pro season and had seven assists in 29 games with the Checkers prior to the trade.
Quick Hits: Nic Pierog (two goals, one assist) and Oliver Wahlstrom (two goals, one assist) each had a point in all three games last weekend and are on a team-best three-game scoring streak... Wahlstrom has six points (four goals, two assists) in his last nine games... Kieffer Bellows has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last eight games... Sebastian Aho has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his last 10 games... Sunday's win was the Sound Tigers' first when allowing five goals this season... Bridgeport has been eliminated from winning the Atlantic Division title, but is still alive for a playoff spot... The Sound Tigers went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill Sunday and snapped a seven-game stretch of allowing at least one power-play goal.
Goals: Kieffer Bellows (20)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (27)
Points: Sebastian Aho (30)
Plus/Minus: Robert Carpenter (+5)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (95)
Power Play Goals: Otto Koivula*, Kieffer Bellows (4)
Shots: Kieffer Bellows (136)
Wins: Jared Coreau (10)
* = Currently playing with the New York Islanders (NHL)
The New York Islanders (35-23-9) head out west for a four-game road trip beginning tonight in Vancouver and wrapping up in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Officially outside of the playoff bubble, the Isles hope to turn things around as their winless streak reached six games (0-3-3) following an overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last Saturday. Former Sound Tigers Ryan Pulock and Josh Bailey each scored for the Islanders and Thomas Greiss made 25 saves in the setback. New York also suffered losses to Montreal and Ottawa last week and currently ranks sixth in the Metro Division.
The ECHL's Worcester Railers (20-36-4-0) split two contests over the weekend, as a few of their North Division opponents clinched spots in the 2020 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The red-hot Reading Royals did so with a 5-2 win against the Railers at the DCU Center on Saturday. Worcester rebounded the next day with Drew Callin's overtime winner against the Maine Mariners on the road. The Railers visit the Adirondack Thunder tonight before a home-and-home series with Maine this Friday and Saturday, and a 3:05 p.m. matinee against the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday.
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