By: Drew Casey, Contributor (@Drew421)
With the NHL Olympic winter break officially upon us, the professional hockey community within North America has shifted to the American Hockey League. The AHL has taken advantage of this and is hosting its all-star game Wednesday night against Farjestad BK.
This past week in Sound Tigers country saw a bit of everything. It began on Thursday February 6 with some player transactions. Defenseman Andrey Pedan was reassigned to the Stockton Thunder. Pedan, a third round draft pick in 2011 and 20 years old, has been plagued by an upper-body injury (concussion) and has not played since November 11. He has two goals and three assists in nine games.
Later in the day, bigger news broke. Forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard was traded as part of a larger deal to the Chicago Blackhawks. Since being loaned to the Sound Tigers on December 10, Bouchard netted six goals and collected 11 assists in 20 games.
Friday was a quiet day, but Saturday was an especially busy day. Prior to their 7:00 face-off against the Albany Devils, two more player transactions occurred.
First, Matthew Pistilli, was signed to a professional tryout contract. He made his Sound Tigers debut a few hours after putting pen to paper. Additionally, the New York Islanders loaned defenseman Matt Donovan to the Sound Tigers early in the day, so that he could compete and continue to develop during the Olympic break. He arrived in time to play in the 7:00 tilt.
Saturday evening was also the 1000th regular season game in Sound Tigers franchise history. The evening was highlighted with various giveaways and included scoreboard tributes from past Sound Tigers, including many current Islanders.
Clearly, there were a lot of stories to talk about heading into the game, and once the puck dropped it was not different. Early in the first period, Donovan was struck with a puck while sitting on the bench. He was taken to the locker room, where he was stitched up. Donovan returned to the game late in the first period.
Anders Nilsson stopped a penalty shot from Albany forward Chris McKelvie in the first period before surrendering the first goal to Stefan Matteau. Kelly Zajac and McKelvie added second period goals to pace the Devils in a 3-0 victory. Albany goaltenders Keith Kincaid and Scott Wedgewood combined for the shutout stopping all 28 of the Sound Tigers’ shots.
Also in the loss, Johan Sundstrom returned to the lineup after missing nearly two months with an undisclosed illness
Approximately 17 hours later, the Sound Tigers took to the ice at Webster Bank Arena again. This time the opponent was the Adirondack Phantoms, and the game was much different than Saturday’s. The teams traded goals in the first 5:46 to quickly put up a picket fence on the scoreboard. Strome scored his 11th goal of the season, but Adirondack later broke the tie and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Mike Halmo tied it at two shorthanded before John Persson gave the Sound Tigers a 3-2 lead. The Phantoms added a shorthanded goal of their own before the end of the period to tie the game at three. Bridgeport came out of the locker room to start the third period on a mission. Matt Donovan scored his fourth of the season just 28 seconds into the period, and John Persson scored his second of the game just 29 seconds later. Adirondack added a goal to cut their deficit to one, but the Sound Tigers held on to win a tightly contested game 5-4.
Bridgeport has won six of their last eight games, and are beginning to heat up. At the all-star break, the Sound Tigers are 20-24-1-4. They have 27 games remaining and are 13 points out of a playoff spot. They are now 12th in the Eastern Conference.
The team will travel to Springfield to face the Falcons on Saturday night before returning home on Sunday for a matinée tilt with the Albany Devils.