Sound Tigers Roll To Biggest Win of the SeasonDec 21, 2018
Steve Bernier scored twice and Michael Dal Colle notched a goal for the fourth straight game to lead the Bridgeport Islanders (18-8-4-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, to a 6-1 victory against the first-place Charlotte Checkers (22-7-2-0) at Bojangles Coliseum on Friday.
Sebastian Aho added three assists and Chris Bourque had one goal and one assist as the Sound Tigers tallied at least six goals for the first time since their 7-3 victory against the Binghamton Devils on Nov. 7. Tonight's win featured Bridgeport's largest margin of victory this year, and it came in a head-to-head battle of the top two point-getters in the AHL.
Special teams were also highly successful. The Sound Tigers power play went 3-for-4, while the penalty kill finished the game 2-for-2.
The Sound Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead for the eighth consecutive contest when Bernier buried a long rebound at 5:17 of the opening period. Travis St. Denis set it up following a takeaway in the Checkers' zone and recorded the only assist on the even-strength tally. He skated to the left circle and rolled to his left foot before he wristed a shot on target that goaltender Scott Darling kicked away. The puck deflected to the slot where Bernier finished the play off with his 11th goal of the season.
Bernier doubled the advantage less than two minutes later with his team-leading eighth power-play goal, which is tied for second among all AHL players. Following a hooking penalty accessed to Morgan Geekie, Ryan Hitchcock gathered Aho's pass and charged to the bottom of the left circle, before sending a cross-ice feed to Bernier. The veteran forward received it at the right hash marks and sniped a shot off the post and in at 7:12.
Bernier nearly capped a first-period hat trick just past the halfway mark, but was denied by Darling on a breakaway. Bridgeport outshot Charlotte 11-7 in the opening period.
Andrew Poturalski put the Checkers back within one with their only goal of the contest at 8:07 of the second. Aleksi Saarela corralled the puck in the trapezoid and filtered a brilliant centering pass to the doorstep, where Poturalski made it 2-1.
Bridgeport responded with four unanswered goals to close the game, despite being outshot 23-16 in the final 40 minutes. Dal Colle made it 3-1 at 10:29 of the second period when he scored his seventh goal since last Friday, which also came at 5-on-3 strength. Dan Renouf (interference) and Clark Bishop (boarding) were penalized just 32 seconds apart, and Dal Colle cashed in with a short-side wrist shot from the right circle. Bourque and Aho earned the assists on Dal Colle's team-leading 16th tally of the year.
Mitch Vande Sompel followed with his second goal in as many games when he went coast-to-coast at 15:12 of the second. He gained possession deep in his own end and raced through center to set up the opportunity in transition. Despite skating with help, Vande Sompel took matters into his own hands, dragged the puck in the high slot, and fired a wrister off the left post and in. It was his fourth goal of the season.
Bridgeport kept pounding away in the final seconds of the middle frame when Scott Eansor buried a buzzer beater with less than two ticks on the clock. Kyle Burroughs launched a shot at Darling, but it was deflected down by traffic in front and created chaos near the slot. Eansor grabbed the loose puck and beat Darling's glove to make it 5-1 with his second of the season.
Bourque capped the 6-1 final at 14:44 of the third period and gave the Sound Tigers their third power-play strike for the third time this season. Aho and Otto Koivula teamed up to swing the puck over to the top of the left circle, where Bourque slapped a pin-point shot past Darling's reaching glove, off the right post, and in.
Friday's win extended Bridgeport's points streak to five games (4-0-1-0) and snapped Charlotte's seven-game unbeaten in regulation string. Smith (9-5-1) made 29 saves against his former team, while Darling (3-2-0) turned back 17 shots. The Checkers outshot the Sound Tigers 30-27.
Bridgeport improved to 2-0-0-0 against Charlotte this season.
Saturday's Rematch: The Sound Tigers conclude their three-game road trip tomorrow night with a 6 p.m. rematch against the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles Coliseum. Fans can follow all of the live action online via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 5:45 p.m.
Packed Promotional Lineup: The Sound Tigers will boast one of their most extensive and wide-ranging promotional schedules ever for the 2018-19 season. The fan-friendly calendar includes the return of popular themes like Hockey and Hops (Mar. 17), Military Appreciation (Jan. 12), Star Wars Night (Jan. 19) and Princess Night (Mar. 30). Regional hockey fans will be elated for the addition of Hockey Weekend in Connecticut (Feb. 23-24).
For additional details or to reserve a group outing for any giveaway or theme night, please call the Sound Tigers' front office at (203) 345-2300 ext 7.
About the Bridgeport Islanders
Founded in 2001, the Bridgeport Islanders Hockey Club is the top minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders. Don't miss your chance to take part in the family fun entertainment happening every home game at Webster Bank Arena. For further information on ticket or sponsorship opportunities, call our office at (203) 345-2300 or e-mail [email protected]