The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-5-2-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, are trying to rid their early-season demons as October comes to a close and November begins. Bridgeport saw its tough start to the season continue last week as the club collected one point in four games within the division. The Sound Tigers faced each of their closest rivals - the Providence Bruins, Springfield Thunderbirds and Hartford Wolf Pack - with three of the four tilts taking place at Webster Bank Arena.
Bridgeport placed 30 shots on target in Tuesday's game against Providence, but couldn't solve goaltender Max Lagace in a 4-0 loss at home. It was Lagace's second shutout in five games to start the season and the first time the Sound Tigers had been silenced since March 27. Captain Kyle Burroughs accounted for a team-high four shots-on-goal, while Jared Coreau made 29 saves for Bridgeport.
Three days later, Bridgeport completed its homestand against the Thunderbirds, who came into the contest having beaten a few of the top teams in the Atlantic Division the previous week. Steve Bernier scored his first two goals of the season, but the Sound Tigers couldn't keep pace with Springfield in a 7-4 loss at Webster Bank Arena. Burroughs and Sebastian Aho also found the back of the net, helping the Sound Tigers reach the four-goal mark for the second time this season. Owen Tippett and Dominic Toninato each scored twice for the T-Birds.
A home-and-home series with the Wolf Pack highlighted the weekend and provided the Sound Tigers with their best measuring stick of the young campaign. As the early front-runner in the division, Hartford is certainly off to a strong start (8-0-0-1), but Bridgeport managed to get a point on Sunday in a 2-1 overtime loss at home. Grant Hutton had the only goal and Coreau made 28 saves. However, the Wolf Pack were in full control on Saturday, earning a 4-1 victory at the XL Center thanks to a multi-point performance from Danny O'Regan (1g, 1a). Islanders prospect Jakub Skarek made his AHL debut in that contest and made 30 saves on 34 shots.
The Sound Tigers navigate their second straight "3-in-3" this weekend against the Syracuse Crunch (3-2-2-0) and Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3-1-1-2). The series begins on Friday with a 7 p.m. road matchup in Syracuse, N.Y., before Bridgeport returns home for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against the Phantoms. Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Networkand AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes before each game.
News and Notes:
Brotherly Love: Parker and Tyler Wotherspoon could potentially suit up against each other for the first time ever this weekend. Tyler is in his first season with the Phantoms after signing a two-year deal with Philadelphia in July. Both brothers, who are separated in age by four years, have two points (2a) so far this season. Parker, the younger of the two, is in his third full season with the Sound Tigers after signing a three-year entry-level deal with the Islanders in 2016. Parker and Tyler have not faced each other in the pro ranks, juniors or youth hockey.
Feels Like the First Time: 19-year-old Czech goaltender Jakub Skarek made his AHL debut on Saturday after being reassigned from the Worcester Railers (ECHL) two days prior. Skarek, the Islanders' third-round pick in 2018, made 30 saves on 34 shots in Hartford. He was very impressive in the ECHL before his recent call-up, recording a 1.42 goals-against-average and a .941 save percentage in Worcester.
Offensive Woes: The Sound Tigers are determined to climb the ladder in several offensive categories this weekend. Bridgeport is last in the AHL in shots per game (25.89) and 29th on the power play (3-for-37), which is a big reason why the team is 28th in goals scored per game (1.89). The Sound Tigers have been outscored 35-17 in their first nine games of the season.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers have scored first in four of their nine games this season, but have yet to win when doing so…Bridgeport went 9-4-2-1 against North Division opponents last season…Steve Bernier is four points away from his 400th as a pro.
The week ahead:
Friday, Nov. 1 at Syracuse (7 p.m.): The Sound Tigers face their first opponent outside of the division on Friday as they travel to Upstate New York for the first of four matchups with the Crunch. Tampa Bay's affiliate has earned points in back-to-back games entering the weekend (1-0-1-0) and currently ranks sixth in the North Division.
Saturday, Nov. 2 vs. Lehigh Valley (7 p.m.): Philadelphia's affiliate comes to Webster Bank Arena for the first time this season on Scout Night! All scouts (boys and girls) can receive a free ticket to the game by contacting Sound Tigers representative John Reis at 203-345-4848 or John.Reis@harboryardse.com. Post-game photos on the ice are also available! Saturday's game will feature the first of six meetings between the Sound Tigers and Phantoms this season.
Sunday, Nov. 3 vs. Lehigh Valley (5 p.m.): The Phantoms will spend the night in Bridgeport as daylight savings time rolls back, setting up for a 5 p.m. rematch this Sunday. The Sound Tigers went 3-2-1-0 against Lehigh Valley last season and 2-1-0-0 in those games at Webster Bank Arena. Sunday 4-Packs are also available, featuring four (4) tickets, four (4) hot dogs or pizza slices, four (4) bags of chips, four (4) soft drinks and a pair (2) of autographed official game pucks for just $89.
Goals: Matt Lorito (3)
Assists: Travis St. Denis, Seth Helgeson (3)
Points: Matt Lorito, Sebastian Aho (4)
Plus/Minus: Jeff Kubiak (+1)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (22)
Power Play Goals: 3 tied (1)
Shots: Sebastian Aho (26)
Wins: Christopher Gibson (1)
The ECHL's Worcester Railers (3-3-0-0) navigated their own "3-in-3" last weekend with mixed results against the Adirondack Thunder and Brampton Beast. On Friday, the Railers earned a 4-1 victory at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, New York, backstopped by 25 saves from Linus Soderstrom in his North American pro debut. AHL contracted Nic Pierog also scored twice to lead the offensive side. However, the next two days would be see losing efforts in 5-2 (Saturday) and 6-0 (Sunday) setbacks. The Railers are back in Worcester this weekend with matchups against the Newfoundland Growlers and Adirondack.