BRIDGEPORT, CT - Ryan Bourque scored twice and Sebastian Aho recorded three assists on Saturday as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (4-3-1-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, muscled out a 5-4, come-from-behind victory against the Hartford Wolf Pack (4-5-1-0) at the XL Center.
The back-and-forth affair saw each team lead at least twice and was never separated by more than one goal. Christopher Gibson (3-2-0) made 23 saves in a gutsy effort between the pipes, while Steve Bernier netted the eventual game-winner with a redirection from the doorstep on the power play.
Bridgeport’s win was its second this season when trailing after two periods (2-2-0-0).
Bourque, a former Hartford captain, put the Sound Tigers out front just 4:30 into the first period with his first goal of the season. Chris Bigras collected the puck in his own end and skated to the red line, but Bourque picked his pocket and created a two-on-one skating back the other way. He had Jeff Kubiak with him, but opted to keep the possession and fired a wrist shot past Marek Mazanec’s blocker to make it 1-0.
The Wolf Pack tied it up less than three minutes later when Kyle Burroughs got dumped behind Gibson’s net and Hartford capitalized. Brandon Crawley grabbed possession in the trapezoid and slipped a centering feed to the doorstep where Steven Fogarty finished it for his fifth tally of the year at 6:50.
Less than a minute later, Bourque notched his second of the period with a nifty redirection on Mitch Vande Sompel’s long wrist shot. Aho created the chance with a pass across the blue line to Vande Sompel before the second-year defenseman through a shot towards the crease that Bourque deflected between the circles. It was the 10th time in Bourque’s career that he’s scored twice in the same contest.
The pendulum swung back the other way with 37 seconds left in the opening frame when Michael Lindqvist tied the game at 2-2. Lias Andersson set up in the high slot and blasted a one-timer that Gibson knocked down with his chest, but the puck fell behind Bridgeport’s netminder and sat idle above the goal line. Before the Sound Tigers could react, Lindqvist nudged it across for his third goal of the season at the 19:23 mark.
Hartford grabbed its first lead at 12:52 of the second period courtesy of Shawn O’Donnell’s third goal in the last two games. The Wolf Pack maintained a lengthy shift in the Sound Tigers’ zone before the puck slid free to Crawley on the right wing. The defenseman flipped it towards the net and O’Donnell angled down the airborne puck, and under Gibson’s stick to make it 3-2.
Bridgeport drew it back even at 16:30 of the middle frame with Connor Jones’ second goal of the season. A Sound Tigers’ power play went unsuccessful, but shortly after, Jones tipped a Parker Wotherspoon slapshot past Mazanec’s blocker. Seth Helgeson added his first point of the season with the secondary assist.
Ville Meskanen regained the lead for Hartford with his second North American goal in the final 36 seconds of the period. The Sound Tigers had several opportunities in the offensive zone, but could not convert, which eventually lead to a Wolf Pack chance in transaction. Hartford caught Bridgeport in a transition and Gabriel Fontaine led a two-on-one down the left side before forcing a diagonal pass to the back post where Meskanen tapped it in at 19:24.
A two-goal third period propelled the Sound Tigers to their second straight comeback win, which began with a Travis St. Denis tally at 3:41 of the frame. Aho settled the puck at the top of the left circle and filtered a pin-point pass to the bottom of the right circle where St. Denis launched home a one-time goal.
Bernier capped the scoring with the Sound Tigers’ only power-play goal at 6:26 of the third period. With Bobby Butler in the box for holding, Vande Sompel unleased a shot that Bernier tipped in front while providing a screen and it caromed past Mazanec for Bernier’s team-best fifth goal overall and his third on the power play this season. Aho also collected a helper on the game-winning strike.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. Bridgeport also outshot Hartford 30-27, while Mazanec (2-4-0) stopped 25 chances in the loss.
Next time Out: The Sound Tigers return to action tomorrow with a 3:05 p.m. puck drop against the Providence Bruins at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Fans can follow all of the live action via AHLTV and the Sound Tigers Radio Network, beginning with the pre-game show at 2:45 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 (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.