Bridgeport Sound Tigers: 35-19-2-1 (73 points), 4th in Atlantic Division, 4th in Eastern Conference
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (35-19-2-1) collected three points in a trio of road games last week, including an overtime win in their only trip to Canada during the regular season. The Sound Tigers have 73 points in 57 games and currently sit fourth in the fierce Atlantic Division playoff race, two points behind the third-place Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The top five teams are all separated by just eight points, while positions two through five are separated by four points. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Sound Tigers kicked off a three-game road trip through the North Division on Thursday with an 11 a.m. school-day contest in Toronto, their first ever regular-season meeting against the Toronto Marlies north of the border. It didn't disappoint as Tanner Fritz scored twice, including the game-winning goal in overtime, leading the Sound Tigers to a 4-3 win at Ricoh Coliseum. Ryan Pulock and Travis St. Denis also beat Marlies goaltender Antoine Bibeau, which helped Bridgeport sweep its season series against Toronto (2-0-0-0). Between the pipes, Eamon McAdam (9-3-0) made an AHL career-high 34 saves on 37 shots.
On Saturday, the Sound Tigers went toe-to-toe with the Rochester Americans for more than 60 minutes, but suffered a 4-3 overtime loss in their final trip to The Blue Cross Arena this season. Josh Winquist, Ross Johnston and Michael Dal Colle each found the back of the net, while Taylor Fedun won it for the Amerks at 1:12 of the extra session. Bridgeport finished its season series with Rochester 3-0-1-0, collecting at least one point in all four meetings.
Bridgeport concluded the weekend on Sunday afternoon with another one-goal outcome, but fell to the Utica Comets, 2-1, at the AUD. Pulock extended his point streak to seven games when he lit the lamp in the second period, giving the third-year defenseman nine points (two goals, seven assists) during that stretch. Devon Toews and Winquist also logged a point with an assist. Between the pipes, Jaroslav Halak (14-3-3) made 26 saves on 28 shots.
The Sound Tigers face another busy week ahead with four games in the next seven days, beginning tomorrow night with a 7 p.m. matchup against the Providence Bruins at Webster Bank Arena. Fans can follow all of the upcoming action via the team's online broadcast at www.ahllive.com, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes before the listed start time.
The week ahead:
*Bridgeport vs. Providence Bruins (34-15-5-4) - Tuesday, Mar. 7 at 7 p.m.
Bridgeport at Utica Comets (26-23-7-2) - Friday, Mar. 10 at 7 p.m.
**Bridgeport vs. Albany Devils (32-25-1-1) - Saturday, Mar. 11 at 7 p.m.
Bridgeport vs. Hartford Wolf Pack (21-32-3-2) - Sunday, Mar. 12 at 3 p.m.
News and Notes:
Approaching #500: Veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak is two games shy of his 500th professional appearance, which he is expected to hit this weekend. The 31-year-old has played 388 NHL games with the New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens and St. Louis Blues, and another 89 AHL contests. He boasts a 14-3-3 record in 20 games with the Sound Tigers this season along with a 2.02 goals-against-average, .931 save percentage and two shutouts. Halak, a 2015 NHL All-Star and 2016 World Cup of Hockey runner up, won 12 straight games for the Sound Tigers earlier this season (Jan. 20, 2017 - Feb. 19, 2017), setting the club's all-time record.
Close Quarters: Each of the Sound Tigers last six games have been decided by just one goal. In fact, Bridgeport leads the league with 35 games being decided by a single tally (Utica and Ontario have 33). The club is 23-9-2-1 in one-goal outcomes overall this season and 15-3-0-0 in one-goal games at home.
Fritz Finding His Stride: Following a two-goal effort on Thursday and a two-assist outing Saturday night, second-year forward Tanner Fritz has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his last 11 games, improving to second on the team's active scoring list with 32 points (17 goals, 17 assists) this season. The Ohio State product is also second on the club in goals behind Bracken Kearns.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is "35"… The Hershey Bears are fifth in the Atlantic Division, outside of a playoff spot, but would lead the North Division by five points… Fifteen of Bridgeport's last 19 games will take place against an Atlantic Division opponent… Bracken Kearns is two points shy of 500 professional points.