The Sound Tigers' upward climb in the AHL standings continued with a sweep of a three-games-in-three nights weekend. Islanders first-round pick Sean Bergenheim tallied two-goal, one-assist games on both Friday and Saturday and added another helper Sunday as the Sound Tigers improved to a season-best five games over the .500 mark (27-22-3-2) and into a tie with the Norfolk Admirals for third place in the competitive East Division.
After the Sound Tigers and Lowell Lock Monsters battled back-and-forth to a 2-2 deadlock after one period, Bergenheim opened the floodgates to a Sound Tigers four-goal second period Friday with a power-play marker just 1:56 into the middle frame. He then teamed with Jeremy Colliton to set up Jeff Hamilton's blast before notching the eventual game-winning, shorthanded goal in a 7-4 win. Rob Collins also had a pair of goals, Matt Koalska and Steve Regier scored once each, and Colliton, Regier and Chris Thompson, in his first game back after nine on the shelf with bad ribs, had two assists. Wade Dubielewicz was solid in his first game back from the Islanders stopping 32 of 36 shots.
Bergenheim and the Sound Tigers picked up right where they left off with four first-period goals en route to a 5-2 road win over the Hershey Bears Saturday. Nine seconds after emerging from the penalty box on the front end of a two-man disadvantage, Bergenheim converted a give-and-go with Colliton for another shortie and a 1-0 lead. Bergenheim and Regier then scored in a 43-second span just past the mid-point of the opening fame before Koalska added a power-play tally off a pretty over-the-back-of-the-net feed from David Masse to make it 4-0 through 20 minutes. Colliton upped the lead to 5-0 just 28 seconds into the second period, and Frederic Cloutier totaled 43 saves, including 19 in the third period, as the Sound Tigers gutted out the win despite playing two men short. Evgeny Tunik sat with the flu and Ryan Caldwell was lost to a first-period shoulder injury.
The hardest part of the weekend may have taken place following Saturday's win in Chocolatetown as the Sound Tigers bused their way through the record blizzard, which kept them on the road until 3:30 a.m. while the incoming Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins beat the weather and were settled into their hotel rooms hours earlier.
Jeff Hamilton opened Sunday's scoring with his 80th all-time goal as a Sound Tiger -- a franchise record he's been re-setting all season -- but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Jonathan Filewich answered with :20.8 left in the opening frame. After the teams zipped through a scoreless but well-paced second period, Masse squeezed the eventual game-winner past the AHL's number one goaltender, Dany Sabourin, just 1:22 into the third. Bergenheim then completed his seven-point weekend by slipping the puck to Vince Macri who one-timed home his first goal of the season with 7:01 left to play icing the 3-1 win. Dubielewicz earned the first star of the game with 32 saves upping his personal unbeaten-in-regulation streak to 6-0-0-1, stopping 220 of 229 shots in that time.
The Sound Tigers get right back in to action when they host Hershey this Wednesday, February 15th at 7:05 p.m. before embarking on another three-game weekend. They'll visit the Springfield Falcons this Friday at 7:35 p.m. before returning to Bridgeport's Arena at Harbor Yard to host the red-hot Portland Pirates Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and Norfolk in a big four-point tilt Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.
Sound Tigers tickets can be purchased at Bridgeport's Arena at Harbor Yard box office, on-line at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 203-368-1000. All games are web-cast live at www.soundtigers.com. All AHL games are also available on a pay-per-view basis on the B2 Networks.