Bridgeport Sound Tigers: 18-14-0-1, 5th in Atlantic Division, 7th in Eastern Conference
Bracken Kearns led the Sound Tigers with three goals last week, including his 200th professional tally on Wednesday, as Bridgeport grabbed at least one point in each of its two games during Week 13.
Overall, the Sound Tigers improved to 18-14-0-1 (37 points) this season, but continue to rank fifth in the Atlantic Division standings, eight points behind the Hershey Bears for the final playoff spot. The club will look to gain even more ground this week in a three-game series against the Binghamton Senators, Utica Comets and Providence Bruins. Friday's game against Binghamton will conclude a five-game road trip, while Saturday's contests against Utica will mark the Sound Tigers first home game of 2017.
Looking back, Bridgeport responded from a pair of one-goal deficits to force overtime on Wednesday, but suffered their first setback beyond regulation in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. Kearns notched his milestone early in the third period, and added another goal in the final minute of regulation, while Andrew Rowe was the only Sound Tiger to score in a six-round shootout. Between the pipes, Jaroslav Halak (1-0-1) made 30 saves in 65 minutes and four more in the shootout during his first AHL appearance since Feb. 24, 2008.
Defense was the story on Saturday as the Sound Tigers held the Hartford Wolf Pack to a season-low 17 shots and secured a 2-1 victory at the XL Center. Halak was credited with his first AHL win this season despite leaving the game near the end of the second period, and Stephon Williams was only tested two times in the final 20:39. On the offensive side, Kearns and Michael Dal Colle each found the back of the net, the latter getting his first tally since Nov. 20 to snap a 17-game scoreless drought. It was Bridgeport's first victory on the road since Dec. 10 and its first win in regulation since Dec. 3, snapping an 11-game skid.
The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena at 7 p.m. on Saturday to face Utica for the first time this season. It's Military Appreciation Night presented by the Better Business Bureau* with doors opening at 6 p.m. All of the live action will also be available online via www.ahllive.com, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. ET.
The Week Ahead:
Bridgeport at Binghamton Senators (14-18-2-1) - Friday, Jan. 13 at 7:05 p.m.
Bridgeport vs. Utica Comets (12-16-5-1) - Saturday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.
Bridgeport at Providence Bruins (21-8-4-3) - Sunday, Jan. 15th at 3:05 p.m.
News and Notes:
Hey Now, You're An All Star: On Thursday, Quinnipiac University product Devon Toews was selected to represent the Sound Tigers at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, which will be held Jan. 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Penn. The rookie defenseman leads Bridgeport with 18 assists and ranks second on the club with 22 points in 33 games this season. In addition, Toews is tied for fourth among AHL rookies in helpers and ranks seventh among all league defensemen in points.
Bracken's Benchmark: When Bracken Kearns notched his 200th goal on Wednesday, it came in his 789th professional contest. The 35-year-old has scored 151 goals in the AHL between Cleveland, Milwaukee, Norfolk, San Antonio, Worcester and Bridgeport, 38 in the ECHL, three in the NHL and nearly a dozen while playing in Finland. Kearns currently leads the Sound Tigers in goals (12) and points (27) through 33 games this season.
Keeping It Close: The Sound Tigers have had 18 games decided by just one goal this season, including each of their last three contests. Overall, Bridgeport is tied for fourth in the AHL in one-goal games (two behind Utica, St. John's and Ontario) and is 11-6-0-1 when that scenario plays out.
Quick Hits: Steve Bernier is fifth in the AHL in shooting percentage (23.9-percent)… Ross Johnston leads the Sound Tigers with five bouts this season… Jon Landry leads the team with a plus-11 rating… Bridgeport is 6-2-0-0 against North Division opponents, but 12-12-0-1 in the tough Atlantic… The Sound Tigers lead the league with six shorthanded goals scored on the road.