The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (15-25-4-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, hit the All-Star break following a pair of road games last weekend, coming up short to both the Hartford Wolf Pack (25-10-4-5) and Springfield Thunderbirds (25-19-2-0). Three different Sound Tigers found the back of the net, and defenseman Sebastian Aho recorded one assist prior to heading to Ontario, California for the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic.
Bridgeport opened the weekend on Friday night with a 4-1 loss to the first-place Wolf Pack at XL Center. Travis St. Denis had the Sound Tigers' lone tally and broke up Igor Shesterkin's shutout bid with his seventh goal of the season in the final five minutes. Meanwhile, the Sound Tigers went 0-for-3 on the power play and failed to score on the man advantage for the first time in five games. It was Brent Thompson's 500th career game as an AHL head coach.
Less than 24 hours later, the Sound Tigers fired a season-high 43 shots on target, but couldn't overcome Springfield's potent offense and a three-goal third period in a 6-2 loss at MassMutual Center. Cole Bardreau scored his first goal with Bridgeport and Grant Hutton added his fourth of the year, while Jared Coreau (7-12-1) made 32 saves in net. Bridgeport fell to 4-5-1-0 in 10 matchups against the T-Birds this season.
The Sound Tigers return from the 2020 All-Star break this Friday with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Hershey Bears (27-14-2-3) at Webster Bank Arena. The club will immediately hop on a bus and travel west to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for a 7:05 p.m. clash with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (22-16-3-4). 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:
Friday, Jan. 31 vs. Hershey (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers will host Washington's affiliate for the second time this season, which also marks the fifth of six meetings in 2019-20. The Bears are currently tied for first place in the Atlantic Division standings with Hartford (59 points). Friday's game is Hockey & Hops, featuring $2 domestic draft beers (12 oz.) until the end of the second intermission for those 21 and older. Certain stands are excluded. Great seats are on sale now!
Saturday, Feb. 1 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (7:05 p.m.): Saturday's game is the fourth of six meetings between the Sound Tigers and Penguins this season. Bridgeport is 1-1-0-1 against Pittsburgh's affiliate, including a 3-0 victory at Webster Bank Arena on Dec. 21. Jakub Skarek recorded his first AHL shutout with 30 saves that night, while Travis St. Denis paced the offense with two goals.
News and Notes:
Aho Takes Home the Hardware: Sebastian Aho helped the Atlantic Division win the 2020 AHL All-Star Challenge on Monday night, scoring once and adding an assist in the 3-on-3 round robin tournament in Ontario, California. It was Aho's third straight All-Star selection and his second straight appearance. The New York Islanders prospect leads the Sound Tigers in assists (20) and is tied for the team lead in points (22) through 38 games.
Mr. 500: Brent Thompson worked his 500th game as an AHL head coach last Friday, all of those contests behind Bridgeport's bench. Thompson is in his seventh season with the Sound Tigers and ninth season in the Islanders organization. He served as an assistant coach on Long Island from 2012-14. In the AHL, Thompson is 246-205-50 in 501 career games and became the Sound Tigers' all-time winningest head coach on Jan. 28, 2017 with his 134th victory. He was hired on June 28, 2011 following two seasons with the Alaska Aces (ECHL), where he won the Kelly Cup in 2011.
St. Denis Strikes: Travis St. Denis scored his first goal in 11 games on Friday, which was also his 18th point (7g, 11a) of the season. St. Denis improved to fourth on the club in scoring and fifth in goals during his fourth professional campaign. The Sound Tigers are 4-0-0-0 when he records a multi-point outing.
Quick Hits: Christopher Gibson made 24 saves on 28 shots in Friday's game at Hartford, his first appearance since Nov. 27 due to injury… Ryan Bourque and Kyle Burroughs missed both games last weekend with upper-body injuries… Josh Ho-Sang has been out since Jan. 5 due to injury… Seth Helgeson is the only player to appear in all 45 games this season… Bridgeport is 16 points outside of a playoff spot as the club returns from the All-Star break with 31 games left in the regular season.
Goals: Kieffer Bellows (15)
Assists: Sebastian Aho (20)
Points: Kieffer Bellows (22)
Plus/Minus: Josh Ho-Sang (+3)
Penalty Minutes: Travis St. Denis (61)
Power Play Goals: Kieffer Bellows, Otto Koivula (3)
Shots: Kieffer Bellows (113)
Wins: Jared Coreau (7)
The ECHL's Worcester Railers (17-25-2-0) came out of their All-Star break with a three-in-three weekend that could best be described as delivering Jekyll and Hyde results. While the Railers secured a 2-1 win against the Maine Mariners last Friday, they also suffered losses to the Mariners and Adirondack Thunder. Worcester returns to action on Friday with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Reading Royals at the DCU Center.