ALLENTOWN, PA - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-32-5-2), American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders, scored six times for the second straight Friday in a 6-4 win against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (24-27-2-6) at PPL Center. Kieffer Bellows had another two goals and became the first Sound Tiger to eclipse the 20-goal mark this season.
Colin McDonald, Oliver Wahlstrom, Nic Pierog and Robert Carpenter also found the back of the net as Bridgeport improved to 2-2-1-0 against the Phantoms this season. It was the third time this year that the Sound Tigers have recorded at least six goals in a contest.
Morgan Frost scored twice for the Phantoms, including the opening goal on the power play just 1:23 into the game. After Cole Bardreau was called for cross-checking just 55 seconds in, Frost beat Christopher Gibson’s glove for his 12th of the season from Chris Bigras and Greg Carey.
Bridgeport wasted little time in responding and turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead with back-to-back tallies 4:01 apart. McDonald redirected home Seth Helgeson’s slap shot at the 3:35 mark for his fifth goal of the season and Wahlstrom followed with this ninth of the year at 7:36. Parker Wotherspoon created the chance by rushing coast-to-coast following a stick save from Gibson and putting a centering pass right on Wahlstrom’s tape for a tap-in at the crease.
Frost’s second goal of the period tied the game at 2-2 on an unassisted chance at 19:19. But that deadlock lasted just 26 seconds as Pierog intercepted a pass below the right hash marks and tucked in his second AHL goal. Tyler Wotherspoon attempted to brush the puck ahead in the final seconds of the frame, but Pierog read the play perfectly and went short side for his first AHL goal since Nov. 6 at the 19:35 mark.
Both teams traded a goal in the second period to put the Sound Tigers on top 4-3 entering the second intermission. Bellows struck first at 14:04 with Bridgeport’s lone power-play tally, coming just six seconds after Mikhail Vorobyev was called for hooking. Travis St. Denis won a faceoff cleanly back to Sebastian Aho, who returned the puck to St. Denis. The fourth-year forward quickly found Bellows in the right circle for a one-time slap shot that sailed past Kirill Ustimenko’s glove. However, Carson Twarynski answered with his sixth of the season at 18:37 to bring the Phantoms back to within one.
Andy Andreoff pulled the game back even with a goal for the third straight game at 10:12 of the third. David Kase raced into the Sound Tigers’ zone and dropped a pass for Frost, who rifled a quick wrist shot at Gibson’s right pad. The puck hopped off Bridgeport’s goaltender and back out front, where it hit Andreoff’s skate and went it. After a lengthy review, it was determined that the puck was not kicked in and the goal stood.
Less than three minutes later, Bellows put the Sound Tigers on top for good with his team-leading 20th goal of the season at the 12:41 mark. Mason Jobst fed the puck into the Phantoms’ zone and Lehigh Valley took over, but a defensive turnover led to Bellows cutting in and scoring on his own rebound to make it 5-4.
Carpenter added an empty-net tally at 18:37 to finish the 6-4 final. He was also hit up high by Chris Bigras’ reaching shoulder in the final 40 seconds, which led to chaos and a flurry of penalties in the final minute.
Gibson (8-8-5) finished the game with 30 saves, while Bridgeport outshot Lehigh Valley 35-34. The Sound Tigers went 1-for-7 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the kill.
Next Time Out: The Sound Tigers return to action tomorrow night with a 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. 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.