BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3-3-1-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, finished a busy three-game weekend on Sunday with a 4-3 shootout win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3-2-0-1) at Webster Bank Arena.
Steve Bernier scored twice to help the Sound Tigers battle back from an early two-goal deficit, while Devon Toews also logged his first goal of the year. Chris Bourque netted the shootout winner and Christopher Gibson (2-2-0) made 29 saves on 32 shots, including eight magnificent stops during the five-minute overtime.
Lehigh Valley capitalized on the game’s first shot just 2:53 into the contest after Kyle Burroughs took an early roughing penalty, which put the Phantoms on the power play. German Rubstov grabbed the puck behind the net and filtered a pass out front to David Kase, who got just enough of the puck on his backhand to send it off the post and past Gibson for his second goal of the season.
Shortly after, Carsen Twarynski took a tripping penalty that gave Bridgeport much-needed momentum in the offensive zone. While they were unable to score on the man advantage, the Sound Tigers moved the puck well below the blue line. The best chance of the period came later in the first with just over four minutes left. Tanner Fritz corralled a puck off the boards, moved towards the net and hit a post on a backhand opportunity that was unable to beat Lehigh Valley goaltender Carter Hart.
Lehigh Valley made it 2-0 with another power play tally at 19:11 of the first period. After Josh Ho-Sang was called for interference, reigning AHL Most Valuable Player Phil Varone was the beneficiary of a crisp passing play. T.J. Brennan moved the puck from the point down low to Greg Carey on the left flank and Carey found a seam through the middle of the ice. He dished a pass directly to Varone’s tape for the goal. Varone’s tally was his second point of the night, as he also picked up the secondary assist on the first goal.
Devon Toews opened the floodgates for Bridgeport and cut its deficit in half midway through the second period. Ben Holmstrom entered the zone and fed Toews along the left wing, and in one motion, he both caught and snapped a quick shot below Hart’s blocker to make it 2-1 at the 10:03 mark.
Toews’ goal is his first of the season and is his sixth point in as many games, dating back to Oct. 7 at Hershey. Jeff Kubiak, who was recalled to the Sound Tigers from Worcester today, also picked the secondary assist on the play.
The Sound Tigers followed that up less than six minutes later and tied the game at 2-2 in the closing seconds of another power play. Bernier was on the receiving end of some puck luck after Josh Ho-Sang centered a pass from the left side that hit a Phantoms defenseman. The puck landed in the crease, right in front of Bernier, who made no mistake banging home his third of the season at 15:53.
Bernier broke the stalemate at 17:15 of the third period to give Bridgeport its first lead of the afternoon. Kieffer Bellows took a shot that was blocked by a Phantoms defenseman, but he regathered the puck in the slot and fired another quick snapshot that hit Bernier and bounced past Hart.
However, 38 seconds later, the Phantoms sucked the life out of the building when Brennan wired home a one-timer off a D-to-D pass from the point - his team-leading 10th point of the season.
For the third time in four games Bridgeport went to overtime, but this time the Sound Tigers had to kill off a penalty after Bourque was called for slashing. Despite heavy pressure from Lehigh Valley, Gibson stood tall and stopped every opportunity thrown his way to take the game into a shootout.
In the Sound Tigers’ first shootout this season, Bourque scored the only goal with a nifty shot over Hart’s glove, off the bar and in. On the other end, Gibson was a perfect 3-for-3 against Phantoms shooters and denied Kase to seal the win for Bridgeport.
The Sound Tigers went 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Next time out: The Sound Tigers return to action on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m., when they travel to the XL Center in Hartford to face the Wolf Pack for the first time this season. Fans can follow all of the live action via AHLTV and the Sound Tigers Radio Network, beginning with the pre-game show at 7:15 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 (Nov. 23 and 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), while other new headliners include Holiday Gift Weekend (Dec. 15-16) and a revamped Teddy Bear Toss (Nov. 23). View the full 2018-19 promotional schedule.
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.
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