BRIDGEPORT, CT - The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-2-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, received goals from three different scorers in Saturday’s home opener, but ultimately fell to the Rochester Americans (2-2-0-0) in a 4-3 setback at Webster Bank Arena.
Bridgeport’s offense came from Connor Jones, Travis St. Denis and Steve Bernier, while Victor Olofsson’s two-point night led the Americans, including his game-winner in the final minute of regulation.
The Sound Tigers wasted no time finding the scoresheet at home. Just 1:40 into the contest, Josh Ho-Sang finessed his way into the offensive zone, kept possession at the blue line, and found Parker Wotherspoon. His shot hit the mask of Rochester goalie Scott Wedgewood before Jones tracked down the rebound and potted his his first goal of the season from the crease.
However, on the ensuing shift, Jones took a hooking penalty to put the Americans on the power play and Rochester quickly answered back when captain Kevin Porter scored his first of the year. On the play, Lawrence Pilut walked the blue line, found Zach Redmond on the left half wall and quickly threaded a feed past Christopher Gibson. Porter finished the play with a tap-in.
After some back-and-forth play in the middle part of the period, the Sound Tigers extended their lead to 2-1. Devon Toews forced a turnover in the offensive zone and found St. Denis alone in the slot. He made a quick move to open up Wedgewood and beat him five-hole for his first goal of the season. St. Denis now has eight points (five goals, three assists) in the last five games against Rochester.
Although Rochester’s C.J. Smith hit a post with four seconds left in the period, there was no other scoring at the end of the opening frame.
Rochester started the middle frame on the power play and maintained the bulk of possession throughout the early minutes of play. It wasn’t until after a penalty kill that the Sounds Tigers’ offense came alive again.
Halfway through the period, Tanner Fritz forced a turnover in the Amerks zone and found Bernier in the slot. He ripped a wrist shot past Wedgewood’s blocker side to give the Sound Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Later, St. Denis took a cross-checking penalty in the Tigers’ offensive zone to put the Americans on the power play. As the penalty expired, Brendan Guhle’s shot from the point hit Gibson’s pad and found its way onto Smith’s stick, who made no mistake putting it past Gibson in front to cut down Rochester’s deficit to 3-2 going into the third period.
The Sound Tigers took consecutive penalties -- the first, a cross-check from Kyle Burroughs and the second being a slashing call from Seth Helgeson -- to start the final frame of regulation. While Gibson made three agile saves, the fourth shot of the power play found its way into the back of the net. Alex Nylander finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play from Olofsson and Redmond. He caught a cross-ice pass at the left flank and fired a one-timer that deflected off of Wotherspoon’s stick, then the post and finally went into the
Despite the American’s two power play goals, Bridgeport contained Rochester’s special teams as a whole, as it went 6-for-8 on the penalty kill over the course of the game.
The Sound Tigers went on a 5-on-3 opportunity of their own with just over four minutes left to play in regulation. Although no goals were scored, the best chance came at the tail end of the power play when Mike Sislo’s stick snapped on a one-timer after catching Michael Dal Colle’s cross-ice feed.
The missed chance proved to be a costly one, as Rochester took a late lead with exactly one minute remaining in the game. Olofsson entered the zone with pressure, threw a backhander on net that somehow squeaked by Gibson and landed in the back of the net to give his team a 4-3 lead.
With the goalie pulled, the Sound Tigers put some offensive pressure on the Americans in the final minute of play, but were unable to beat Wedgewood and tie the game.
Gibson (0-2-0) made 24 saves on 28 shots, while Wedgewood (1-2-0) made 20 saves on 23 chances for his first win with the Amerks.