The Bridgeport Sound Tigers enter their final week of the regular season just one point outside of a playoff spot in the treacherous Atlantic Division. The Sound Tigers, who have two games remaining this weekend, trail the fourth-place Hershey Bears by a single tally as well as the Providence Bruins and Lehigh Valley Phantoms by three points. Only the first-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (104 points) have clinched a playoff berth in the Atlantic Division prior to Week 26.
Last week, the Sound Tigers collected four points in four games including a 2-1 win against the Springfield Thunderbirds on Tuesday afternoon. Jake Bischoff and Josh Winquist each scored and Eamon McAdam made 19 saves to boost Bridgeport to its fourth straight win, an outcome that was watched by 7,012 energetic fans at Webster Bank Arena. For Bischoff, his second-period goal was his first professional game-winning tally, and his second goal overall in three games. Bridgeport finished the season 3-0-0-0 in school-day affairs.
The Sound Tigers couldn't extend their winning ways on Friday or Saturday as the club suffered a pair of losses in a home-and-home series against Providence. On Friday, Bridgeport led for more than two periods, but let a late advantage slip away in a 2-1 setback at Dunkin' Donuts Center. Devon Toews scored the Sound Tigers' only goal and McAdam turned back 31 shots, but saw his personal four-game win streak come to an end. Twenty-four hours later, Bridgeport launched 34 shots against Malcolm Subban, but the fourth-year netminder stopped each and every one in a 3-0 decision in Connecticut.
The Sound Tigers bounced back on Sunday when the club used three goals in a span of 2:01 during the second period to defeat the Hartford Wolf Pack in the team's home finale at Webster Bank Arena. Travis St. Denis (in his first game back since Mar. 5), Ben Holmstrom (on his 30th birthday) and Ryan Pulock all found the back of the net, while McAdam made 19 saves in his seventh straight start. The Sound Tigers finished the season 6-2-0-0 against their in-state rivals.
Bridgeport concludes its 16th regular season in the American Hockey League this weekend with a pair of road games on Friday and Saturday. Fans can follow all of the action from Springfield, Mass. and Wilkes-Barre, Penn. via the team's online broadcast at www.ahllive.com, beginning with the pre-game show 15 minutes before each listed start time.
The week ahead:
Bridgeport at Springfield Thunderbirds (29-33-9-2) - Friday, Apr. 14 at 7:05 p.m.
Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton Penguins (50-19-3-1) - Saturday, Apr. 15 at 7 p.m.
News and Notes:
The Boys Are Back In Town: The Sound Tigers welcomed back three crucial skaters on Monday when the New York Islanders reassigned Josh Ho-Sang, Connor Jones and Adam Pelech to Bridgeport. Ho-Sang made his NHL debut on Mar. 2 at Dallas and went on to record 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 21 games with the Isles. Jones also made his NHL debut this season, Apr. 2 at Buffalo, and registered a plus-1 rating in four games. Defensively, Adam Pelech skated in 44 games with the Islanders and posted 10 points (three goals, seven assists). All three are expected to be in the lineup this weekend.
Scouting Report: The Springfield Thunderbirds have dropped three straight games overall and three in a row to Bridgeport as well. The T-Birds are coming off a 4-2 loss to Lehigh Valley on Saturday, in which Paul Thompson scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season and Chase Balisy added his 16th of the year. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on the other hand are on a five-game point streak (4-0-0-1) and 8-0-1-0 over their last 10 games. The Penguins are coming off a 2-1 win over Providence on Sunday and their roster got stronger on Monday with the return of Oskar Sundqvist, Dominik Simon, Derrick Pouliot and others from Pittsburgh.
Rookie Recognition: The American Hockey League announced last Wednesday that Devon Toews has been named to the 2016-17 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by coaches, players and media in each of the league's 30 markets. The Quinnipiac University product has skated in all 74 games for the Sound Tigers this season and leads all rookies with 37 assists, while tying for the league lead among rookie defensemen with 41 points. Toews represented Bridgeport at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic in January.
Quick Hits: The Sound Tigers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is "six," but the club does not control its own destiny, as Hershey's magic number is "four"… Lehigh Valley can clinch a playoff berth tonight with a point at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Providence can secure its spot tonight with a win at Springfield... Bracken Kearns leads Bridgeport in goals (23) and points (50), is tied for the team lead in power play goals (9), and ranks second in plus-minus (+18).
Standings (Atlantic Division)
1. Wilkes-Bare/Scranton Penguins (50-19-3-1) = 104 points - Clinched
2. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (45-23-5-0) = 95 points - Magic #: 2
3. Providence Bruins (43-21-5-4) = 95 points - Magic #: 2
4. Hershey Bears (41-22-8-3) = 93 points - Magic #: 4
5. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (44-26-3-1) = 92 points - Magic #: 6
6. Springfield Thunderbirds (29-33-9-2) = 69 points - Eliminated
7. Hartford Wolf Pack (24-43-4-2) = 54 points - Eliminate