PROVIDENCE, RI - Mitch Vande Sompel scored his first professional overtime winner to push the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (31-18-5-2), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, to their third straight win on Friday, a 5-4 victory against the Providence Bruins (27-19-7-1) at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
It was Bridgeport’s league-leading 13th win past regulation in 20 chances, with six of those contests coming against the Bruins. Sebastian Aho, Chris Bourque, Jeff Kubiak and Connor Jones also scored, helping the Sound Tigers bounce back from three one-goal deficits. The game was never separated by more than a single tally.
Aho and Kubiak both ended the game with one goal and one assist, while Josh Ho-Sang had three assists and Michael Dal Colle added two helpers. Ho-Sang, the reigning AHL Player of the Week, now has nine points (five goals, five assists) in his last three games overall. In addition, the Sound Tigers pushed their point streak to six games (5-0-1-0) and remain second in the Atlantic Division.
The Sound Tigers went to the power play just 34 seconds into the game when Christopher Gibson was bumped by Lee Stempniak and drew a penalty for goaltender interference, but couldn’t convert despite constant pressure in the offensive zone. Providence, which boasts the AHL’s top penalty kill, used that momentum from their successful PK to strike first at the 5:13 mark. Paul Carey blocked Vande Sompel’s wrist shot in the high slot and charged back in transition before beating Gibson’s glove for his 12th goal this season.
Bridgeport answered exactly nine minutes later when Jones capitalized in front for his fifth goal. A great forecheck from Ho-Sang led to a turnover behind Providence’s net, which allowed Ho-Sang to center a pass to the slot. Kubiak’s initial shot was redirected to the doorstep, where Jones remained patient and forced home the equalizer at 14:13, beating goalie Zane McIntyre.
Gemel Smith made it 2-1 less than three minutes later when he deposited his 10th goal of the season into the Sound Tigers’ cage. Emil Johansson found Smith on the right side, where he beat Gibson at the 17:08 mark. Gibson was replaced by Jeremy Smith (15-9-3) during the first intermission and took a no decision.
Kubiak responded with a nifty backhand shot in transition to beat McIntyre for the second time at 10:22 of the middle frame. Ben Holmstrom received a pass from Jones just past the red line, and bumped the puck into open space for a charging Kubiak. The second-year forward gathered the pass and sped into the offensive zone before slipping a low shot across the goal line to make it 2-2.
The tie was short lived as Providence regained its lead just two minutes later, when captain Jordan Szwarz tipped home his team-leading 17th tally of the season. It was also the first of three power-play goals on the evening. With John Stevens in the box for interference, Jakub Zboril stepped into a wrist shot above the left circle that Szwarz altered at the doorstep for Smith’s first blemish.
Bridgeport’s first power-play strike came in the final two minutes of the second period to pull the Sound Tigers back even. Following an interference minor handed out to Mark McNeill, Aho and Bourque exchanged a sequence of back-and-forth passes before Bourque rifled a one-timer from the right circle past McIntyre’s glove to make it 3-3 at the 18:43 mark.
Both teams traded goals in the third period to remain deadlocked after 60 minutes. Aho put the Sound Tigers on top for the first time with a power-play goal at 11:34, assisted by Ho-Sang and Dal Colle. Back-to-back penalties separated by just one minute put the Bruins down two players, and gave Bridgeport its best power-play opportunity of night. Dal Colle fed Ho-Sang at the bottom of the left circle, who in turn sent a diagonal pass above the right circle. There, Aho buried a quick shot while falling over for his sixth goal of the season to make it 4-3.
Carey’s second of the night drew Providence back even, 4-4, when he settled a backhand pass from Smith and scored on a one-time near the right hash marks. It was his team-leading 13th goal of the season, which ultimately forced overtime at the 13:19 mark.
Just 69 seconds into the extra frame, Dal Colle directed a pass to Vande Sompel at the right point, where he delayed before slowly starting ahead to set up a two-on-one. Vande Sompel navigated through the right circle and looked off Ho-Sang, prior to scoring the game-winner.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 2-for-7 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill. Smith made 18 saves on 20 shots in his relief appearance and victory.