The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (10-15-3-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, collected two points in two games last weekend as it split a pair of road matchups against the Hershey Bears and Utica Comets. Kieffer Bellows scored in both games and now has goals in three straight, while John Stevens posted his first two-goal game of the season in Utica.
The Sound Tigers jumped on the Comets early with three goals in the opening period en route to a 4-1 victory on Friday. Two of them were netted by Stevens, including Bridgeport's first shorthanded goal of the year, while Travis St. Denis began the scoring with a power-play goal midway through the frame. Bellows added his sixth of the year on a spectacular individual effort that made ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays segment. Utica got to within one courtesy of two power-play goals in the third period, but Jared Coreau backstopped the win with 31 saves.
Bridgeport's offense wasn't as effective on Saturday, but Bellows remained hot and recorded his sixth goal in eight games during a 5-2 setback in Hershey. It was his seventh of the year overall, tied with Matt Lorito for the team lead, while Andrew Ladd also registered his fifth. Jeff Kubiak ended the night with a team-high two points (two assists).
The Sound Tigers return to action this week with three games before their holiday break, facing a trio of clubs with a winning record: the Syracuse Crunch (15-10-2-0), Springfield Thunderbirds (15-14-1-0) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (14-10-3-1). The slate begins on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Crunch inside Webster Bank Arena.
The week ahead:
Wednesday, Dec. 18 vs. Syracuse (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers host Tampa Bay's affiliate for the first time this season at Webster Bank Arena. Bridgeport is 0-2-0-0 in the season series, including a 5-2 setback on Dec. 7, in which Parker Wotherspoon and Nick Schilkey each scored. Great seats are still available!
Friday, Dec. 20 at Springfield (7:05 p.m.): Friday will feature a short trip up to Massachusetts for a road matchup against the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Sound Tigers will try for their fifth win in seven games against Florida's affiliate this season, who currently hold a 10-6-1-0 record at home. Bridgeport will look to slow down rookie forward Owen Tippett, who ranks third among all first-year players in the AHL with 23 points (11g, 12a) in 30 games.
Saturday, Dec. 21 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (7 p.m.): Bridgeport concludes the weekend against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the last game before its brief holiday break. The Sound Tigers are looking for their first win against Pittsburgh's affiliate (0-1-0-1) and one of the major threats facing them on Saturday will be goalie Casey DeSmith, who ranks inside the AHL's top five in both saves (520) and minutes played (1,105:53). Tickets to the game are on sale now and all fans in attendance have the opportunity to meet Santa Claus!
News and Notes:
Bellows Keeps Burying: Second-year forward Kieffer Bellows has scored in three straight games and has six goals in his last eight contests. He is tied for the team lead in that category with Matt Lorito (seven). One of those goals also came in Bellows' 100th professional appearance on Saturday night in Hershey.
Beast on the Back Line: Sebastian Aho has been one of the Sound Tigers' offensive leaders all season and continues to rank in the top 15 among AHL defensemen in scoring. His 14 assists are the most on Bridgeport's roster and only twice this year has he gone more than two games without registering a point. Aho has 16 points (2g, 14a) in 29 games this season.
Made in America: Quincy, Mass. native Oliver Wahlstrom was reassigned to USA Hockey by the New York Islanders on Tuesday in preparation for the upcoming World Juniors Camp. Wahlstrom, 19, recorded nine points (3g, 6a) in 20 games with the Sound Tigers this season and also played nine games with the Islanders, including his NHL debut on Oct. 14 against St. Louis. His 57 shots are fourth-most on the Sound Tigers and tied for sixth among all AHL rookies.
Quick Hits: Arnaud Durandeau is tied for the league lead in shooting percentage (33.3%)… Christopher Gibson is 10th in the AHL with a 2.40 goals-against-average, but hasn't played since Nov. 27 due to injury… Bridgeport now leads the AHL in major penalties with 21… The Sound Tigers are 8-10-2-1 against Atlantic Division opponents and 2-5-1-0 against North Division teams.
Goals: Matt Lorito, Kieffer Bellows (7)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (14)
Points: Matt Lorito, Sebastian Aho (16)
Plus/Minus: Colin McDonald (+5)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (41)
Power Play Goals: Andrew Ladd (2)
Shots: Kieffer Bellows (70)
Wins: Christopher Gibson (5)
The ECHL's Worcester Railers (8-15-1-0) got back on the winning track this past weekend against the Maine Mariners and Reading Royals. Following a 4-2 loss to Maine on Friday, the Railers righted the ship a day later with a 3-2 victory in a rematch with the Mariners. Shane Walsh recorded two goals and an assist, while AHL contracted goalie Evan Buitenhuis collected the win in net. On Sunday against the Royals, former Sound Tiger Nic Pierog turned in a two-goal performance, one of which was shorthanded to give the Railers an early lead. Pierog's second of the contest was on the empty net, which helped seal a 4-1 win. Worcester will host its fourth consecutive home game against the Allen Americans this Wednesday before taking to the road for back-to-back games against the Brampton Beast leading into Christmas.