HERSHEY, PA - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (42-24-3-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, moved back into a playoff position on Saturday with a 4-2 victory against the Hershey Bears (38-21-8-3) at GIANT Center.
Darren Nowick scored twice, and Kane Lafranchise and Carter Verhaeghe also found the back of the net, while Eamon McAdam (13-4-0) made 29 saves on 31 shots.
The Sound Tigers now sit fourth in the Atlantic Division standings with six games left in the regular season. Bridgeport is one point ahead of Hershey for the cut off. With the victory, the Sound Tigers finished their season series with Hershey 5-3-0-0.
Nowick used his speed and precision to open the scoring at 13:05 of the first period. After receiving a pass from Ryan Pulock in the neutral zone, Nowick raced down the right wing to the bottom of the circle and elevated a perfectly-placed wrist shot over the glove of Pheonix Copley to make it 1-0. It was his second AHL goal.
Lafranchise doubled the advantage at the 18:19 mark when he scored his fifth tally of the season. Josh Winquist found Lafranchise at the left point, where the defenseman forced a slap pass in the direction of Michael Dal Colle. However, the feed redirected off a Bears’ skater in front and past Copley’s left leg to make it 2-0.
Verhaeghe notched the game-winning goal at 11:25 of the second period, which at the time put Bridgeport on top by three. From the right wing, Bracken Kearns slid a pass to Devon Toews at the high slot where the rookie blue-liner ripped a slapper on target that Verhaeghe redirected from the doorstep.
The Bears got one back less than two minutes later when Travis Boyd netted a power-play goal. With Patrick Cullity in the box for tripping, Chris Bourque set up Boyd in the left circle and the latter filtered a snap shot past McAdam’s glove and just inside the right post. Christian Djoos also registered an assist at the 13:03 mark.
Nowick’s second goal of the night made it 4-1 at 15:37 of the middle frame. From behind the Bears’ net, John Stevens bumped the puck to the left circle and Nowick skated over to it, placing a low shot under Copley and across the goal line. The tally ultimately chased Copley from the game, completing his night with 11 saves on 15 shots in 35:37. Vitek Vanecek came on in relief.
Ryan Bourque made things interesting when he capped the scoring in the opening five minutes of the third period, cutting Hershey’s deficit to a pair. Garret Mitchell and Zach Sill both failed to convert during a mad scramble in front before Bourque finally cleaned up the loose change by elevating a shot over the outstretched left arm of McAdam.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill. Hershey outshot Bridgeport 31-24, while Vanecek stopped all nine shots he faced in a no decision.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena on Tuesday for their annual School Fun 102 game, an 11 a.m. start against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Limited tickets are still on sale by visiting the Webster Bank Arena Click It or Ticket Box Office. In addition, fans can follow all of the action via the team’s online broadcast at www.ahllive.com , beginning with the pre-game show at 10:45 a.m.