Bridgeport Sound Tigers: 17-14-0-0, 5th in Atlantic Division, 8th in Eastern Conference
Ryan Pulock, Steve Bernier, Tanner Fritz and Andrew Rowe all recorded at least three points last week as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers flipped the calendar and continued to navigate through the first half of their 2016-17 season.
The Sound Tigers are 17-14-0-0 in 31 games, good for 34 points and fifth place in the Atlantic Division standings. Bridgeport currently sits nine points behind the fourth-place Hershey Bears and four markers ahead of the Springfield Thunderbirds, who they will meet tomorrow night at the MassMutual Center.
The Sound Tigers opened Week 12 last Monday, Dec. 26th with a 5-2 setback to the Hartford Wolf Pack at Webster Bank Arena. The game was neck-and-neck for more than 40 minutes, but Hartford pulled away in the third period with three goals and a hat trick from Nicklas Jensen. Pulock and Fritz each scored for Bridgeport.
On Wednesday, the Sound Tigers continued their trend of overtime victories when Josh Ho-Sang set up Travis St. Denis from the doorstep, lifting Bridgeport over Springfield, 5-4, at Webster Bank Arena. Ho-Sang (one goal, one assist) and Fritz (two assists) each recorded a multi-point effort as the Sound Tigers snapped a five-game slide overall. Bridgeport is 8-0 beyond regulation this season - the AHL's only undefeated team in that category.
Forty-eight hours later, the Sound Tigers found themselves in another nail-biter through two periods, but the final frame proved costly in a 6-2 loss to the Hershey Bears at the GIANT Center. Bernier recorded two points (one goal, one assist) and Scott Mayfield chipped in his third goal of the season, but Hershey scored four times in the third period and four on the power play before it was all said and done. The contest also opened a five-game road trip for Bridgeport.
The Sound Tigers wrapped up the week by scoring twice in a span of 3:11 late in the third period on Sunday, but their comeback effort fell short in a 3-2 loss to the Albany Devils at the Times Union Center. Ex-Devil Bernier delivered his team-leading 11th goal of the season, and second in as many games, while Rowe also found the back of the net. The loss dropped Bridgeport to 2-1-0-0 against Albany this season and 0-3-0-0 all-time in New Year's Day contests.
Bridgeport returns to action tomorrow night with its sixth meeting against Springfield this season, and third matchup at the MassMutual Center. Fans can follow all of the live action via the team's online broadcast at www.ahllive.com. The pre-game show kicks off at 6:45 p.m. ET.
The Week Ahead
Bridgeport at Springfield Thunderbirds (12-12-4-2) - Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 7:05 p.m.
Bridgeport at Hartford Wolf Pack (11-17-3-1) - Friday, Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
News and Notes
Bernier Builds Lead: With a power-play goal against his former team on Sunday, veteran winger Steve Bernier has scored in back-to-back games for the second time this season. The 31-year-old now leads the Sound Tigers with 11 goals this season and six power-play tallies. Bernier is nine goals behind his professional career high that he set during his rookie season in 2005-06 with the AHL's Cleveland Barons.
Promising Prospect: New York Islanders prospect Ryan Pulock is on a career-best five-game point streak (three goals, two assists) dating back to Dec. 17th. Overall, the third-year defenseman ranks third among Sound Tigers' blue liners with eight points, despite playing just 13 games. Pulock has also played one game with the Islanders this season, Oct. 21st at Arizona.
Mr. Game Winner: First-year forward Travis St. Denis helped the Sound Tigers remain perfect beyond regulation last Wednesday (8-0) when he notched the game-winning goal on a top-shelf shot against Springfield netminder Mike McKenna in overtime. It was St. Denis' sixth career tally and his third game-winner, which currently leads the Sound Tigers. All six of his goals were scored in the month of December.
Proud Father: Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson's oldest son, Tage, had one memorable 2016. In June, he was selected 26th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL Entry Draft. Then on Dec. 5th, the University of Connecticut forward was named to Team USA's World Juniors roster. He is currently tied for fifth on the team with four points (one goal, three assists), including a highlight-reel goal from the doorstep against Slovakia last Wednesday. Team USA defeated Switzerland, 3-2, in Monday's quarterfinals and will take on Russia in the semifinals tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.
Adding Reinforcements: The Sound Tigers added a tremendous amount of National Hockey League experience on Saturday when goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Adam Pelech joined Bridgeport's roster from the New York Islanders. Halak, a veteran of 388 regular-season games in the NHL, was named to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in his first season with the Islanders and set New York's all-time single-season wins record (38) in 2014-15. He also backstopped Team Europe to a runner-up finish in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The 31-year-old last played in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs during the 2007-08 season and set the club record with 11 all-time shutouts. Pelech played nine games with the Islanders this season and scored his first NHL goal on Nov. 22nd at Anaheim.
Quick Hits: Bracken Kearns is one goal shy of his 200th professional tally… The Sound Tigers have scored a power-play goal in four straight games for the first time this season… Devon Toews is third among AHL rookies with 18 assists and tied for seventh with 22 points.