The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (12-10-1-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, came up short in a pair of contests against the Springfield Thunderbirds (10-17-1-0) and Rochester Americans (14-5-3-3) last weekend. Steve Bernier and Devon Toews each scored once and added an assist, while Tanner Fritz and Casey Bailey also found the back of the net. Bridgeport currently sits fifth in the Atlantic Division standings 24 games into its 2017-18 campaign.
On Saturday, the Sound Tigers nearly battled all the way back from a three-goal deficit in the third period, but the club fell short in a 4-3 setback to Springfield during its first trip to the MassMutual Center this season. Toews and Bernier led the way with two points as Bridgeport suffered its first loss to the Thunderbirds this season (2-1-0-0). Between the pipes, Christopher Gibson (8-5-0) made 22 saves, but saw his five-game win streak come to an end, while Ross Johnston found himself in the middle of a third-period altercation with Bobby Farnham and finished the night with a career-high 39 penalty minutes.
Bridgeport capped its weekend schedule on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 loss to Rochester at Webster Bank Arena. Bailey scored the team's lone goal with a power-play tally in the second period, but it wasn't enough as the Sound Tigers fell for the fourth straight game (0-3-0-1). Kristers Gudlevskis (4-5-2) stopped 29 of 33 shots in net. It was the first time Rochester had ever defeated Bridgeport in regulation.
The Sound Tigers will use a five-day break to prepare for another busy weekend that includes a trio of games against Atlantic Division opponents. Bridgeport will re-visit the MassMutual Center this Friday for a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Thunderbirds, before returning to Connecticut for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7 p.m.) and Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3 p.m.), respectively. Fans can follow all of the upcoming action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHL Live, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes prior to each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Friday, Dec. 15 at Springfield Thunderbirds (7:05 p.m.): The Sound Tigers are 2-1-0-0 against Springfield this season with victories at Webster Bank Arena on Nov. 4 and Nov. 19. Bridgeport went 7-4-0-1 against the T-Birds in 2016-17 and 4-1-0-1 in those games in Massachusetts.
Saturday, Dec. 16 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7 p.m.): Be sure to arrive at Webster Bank Arena early this Saturday as the first 2,500 fans will receive a Christmas "Santa" version of the Sound Tigers' mascot, Storm, courtesy of Newtown Savings Bank. Great seats are on sale now! It's the first giveaway in a four-part bobblehead series, which also includes Devon Toews (Jan. 20), former Sound Tiger and current New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson (Feb. 25), and Connor Jones (Apr. 8).
Sunday, Dec. 17 vs. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3 p.m.): "Sunday 4-Packs" are available for the weekend finale at Webster Bank Arena, which features the fourth matchup of the year between the Sound Tigers and Phantoms. Take advantage four (4) tickets, four (4) hot dogs, four (4) bags of chips, four (4) soft drinks, and four (4) fidget spinners for as low as $99. Please visit www.soundtigers.com or call the team's front office at 203-345-4813 to purchase. "Sunday 4-Packs" must be ordered by Friday at 5 p.m.
News and notes:
Bailey Heating Up: Fourth-year forward Casey Bailey recorded six shots and slapped home a power-play goal in Sunday's loss to the Rochester Americans. The Penn State University product has each of the Sound Tigers' last two power-play tallies at home and is tied for the team lead with three goals on the man advantage (with Devon Toews and Scott Eansor). In addition, Bailey leads Bridgeport with 83 shots in 24 games this season.
Adding Reinforcements: The Sound Tigers went nearly a month without making a transaction, but that streak ended last week as the club adjusted its lineup several times. Among the moves, the Sound Tigers recalled forward Yanick Turcotte from the Worcester Railers H.C. (ECHL) on Thursday and added forward Shane Prince on Sunday, who was sent to Bridgeport on a conditioning loan. Turcotte made his AHL debut on Saturday following a 16-game stint in Worcester to begin the season, while Prince made his first appearance of the season on Sunday afternoon and notched a game-high seven shots. The 25-year-old spent each of the last two full seasons in the NHL and has played 114 games with the Islanders and Ottawa Senators. Prince recorded 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 50 games with the Isles in 2016-17.
Back in All-Star Form: New York Islanders prospect Devon Toews registered his fifth multi-point game of the season on Saturday and now ranks fifth among AHL defensemen with 17 points in 24 appearances (tied with teammate Sebastian Aho and San Diego's Andy Welinski). Toews, who had five goals during his All-Star campaign a year ago, scored his sixth tally of the season against Springfield and is also tied for second on the team in scoring. Toews played his 100th professional game on Sunday against Rochester.
Quick hits: Tanner Fritz is tied for seventh in the AHL's scoring race with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists)… Sebastian Aho's seven goals are second among League defensemen… Christopher Gibson is 17th in the AHL with a 2.60 goals-against-average… Ross Johnston leads the League with 97 penalty minutes… Devon Toews leads AHL blue-liners with 75 shots… The Sound Tigers lead the Eastern Conference with 32.67 shots per game and rank second in shots against (27.21)… Bridgeport allowed the first goal in both games last weekend, but the team ranks third in the AHL scoring the first goal on 16 occasions.
Goals: Scott Eansor, Steve Bernier (10)
Assists: Tanner Fritz (17)
Points: Tanner Fritz (25)
Plus/minus: Seth Helgeson (+11)
Penalty minutes: Ross Johnston (97)
Power-play goals: Scott Eansor, Devon Toews, Casey Bailey (3)
Shots: Casey Bailey (83)