HERSHEY, PA - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-20-4-1), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, dropped their fifth straight game on Sunday in a 4-2 loss to the Hershey Bears (21-10-2-3) at Giant Center.
Kieffer Bellows scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season early in the second period, but the Sound Tigers never led and came up short in their sixth straight road game. Five of Bridgeport’s six consecutive losses on the road have been decided by two goals or less.
Brian Pinho opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the season and fourth in four games at 4:22 of the first period. Philippe Maillet forced a turnover in the Sound Tigers’ zone and guided a pass to Matt Moulson, who skated down the left wing on a 2-on-1. Moulson looked and waited before playing a pass to the doorstep where Pinho muscled the puck underneath goaltender Jakub Skarek to make it 1-0.
Garrett Pilon doubled Hershey’s advantage at the 16:22 mark when he beat Skarek’s glove for his eighth goal of the year. Mike Sgarbossa set up Pilon down the right wing and the second-year forward fired home a wrist shot to make it 2-0. It was Pilon’s third goal in his last four outings, while Sgarbossa extended his point streak to a team-high seven games (one goal, nine assists).
Bridgeport got one back with Bellows’ power-play marker at 4:23 of the second. Matt Lorito and Colin McDonald teamed up to find Bellows behind the net, where he opened up and brought the puck in front. The Islanders’ first-round pick in 2016 hesitated briefly and flipped a forehand shot, short side, on goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
The Bears answered just 82 seconds later when Kody Clark netted the eventual game-winner and put Hershey on top 3-1. Maillet charged through the right circle and guided a pass across the crease where Clark knocked it home at the back door.
Jeff Kubiak’s third goal of the season came at 15:52 of the middle frame on a sharp-angle shot from the left side. Ryan Bourque intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and bumped the puck to Kubiak, who skated down the wing and wristed a perfectly-placed shot into the back of the cage to draw Bridgeport back within one.
The second period was also a war of attrition at times, as the Bears lost two of their top-line players, Sgarbossa and Joe Snively, to injuries. Bridgeport’s Josh Ho-Sang also left the contest.
Despite outshooting Hershey 14-5 in the third, the Sound Tigers couldn’t beat Vanecek to get back to square one and instead, gave up an empty-netter to Maillet in the final 33 seconds. It was Maillet’s seventh goal of the season and third point of the afternoon (one goal, two assists).
The Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. Skarek (3-7-1) made 19 saves on 22 shots.
Bridgeport outshot Hershey 32-23. The Bears now hold a 3-1-0-0 series lead.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers finish their season-long, five-game road trip next Friday with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Springfield Thunderbirds at MassMutual Center. Fans can follow all of the live action via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
Military Appreciation Weekend: The Sound Tigers return home next Saturday and Sunday for Military Appreciation Weekend, presented by the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut and other community partners. Saturday’s 7 p.m. features a military hat giveaway to the first 2,500 fans and Sunday’s 3 p.m. tilt includes a t-shirt giveaway to the first 1,000 in attendance. All veterans and active duty personnel may receive a free ticket by showing their military ID at the Webster Bank Arena Click It or Ticket Box Office. In addition, the Sound Tigers will wear all-new military-themed jerseys both days, which will be auctioned off to benefit the BBB Foundation. Great seats are still on sale!