The Bridgeport Sound Tigers were unable to end their first losing streak of the season this past weekend, dropping all three of their games by a combined score of 13-6.
The team’s skid now stands at six games, although they earned a point in a shootout loss on Saturday to maintain possession of second place in the Northeast Division.
Winger David Ullstrom was injured on Friday against the Hershey Bears in just his sixth game back after missing five games earlier in the season. He did not play in Saturday’s game against the Worcester Sharks or in Sunday’s game against the Norfolk Admirals. Per the Sound Tigers’ release following the Norfolk game, Travis Hamonic was injured early in the second period of that contest and did not return.
In a spot of good news, top scorers Nino Niederreiter and Brock Nelson got back on the score sheet after going three and four games respectively without a point. Niederreiter recorded two points, a goal and an assist that both came in Saturday’s game, and Nelson scored two goals, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
Other than that, it was mostly bad news for the Sound Tigers and their fans.
Friday’s 5-2 loss against the Bears didn’t get away from Bridgeport until late in the game, when the Sound Tigers gave up three goals in the last six minutes (including an empty netter). Penalty trouble again plagued Bridgeport, as they yielded five separate power plays, including a two-minute 5-on-3, before getting a power play of their own over seven minutes into the third period.
They did not give up many power play goals against -- just one, in fact, at 16:19 of the third. But the penalties seemed to bite the Sound Tigers just when they would start to gain some offensive momentum.
Both teams skated well and generated chances in this game. The deciding factor may have been goaltending. Anders Nilsson looked great through two periods, but shaky in the third, while Bears’ goaltender Braden Holtby maintained his strong play for the full 60 minutes.
Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss against the Sharks saw a strong effort by Bridgeport. They outshot the Sharks 38-34, and maintained consistent offensive pressure in the second and third periods after a lackluster opening frame in which they were outshot 14-5. Sharks’ goaltender Harri Sateri played well through regulation, overtime, and into the shootout to get his team the win, though. The first period got chippy with a lot of scrums and 36 minutes in penalties called on a single play at 11:02. That incident included a fight by Blair Riley and the Sharks’ Mike Brennan that started as a wrestling match on the ground. Both players stood up, Brennan took a wild swing that missed, then Riley knocked Brennan down with a right. Brennan stood back up to get back into the fight and immediately got knocked back down with another right.
Kevin Poulin played well enough in the game, and both Niederreiter and Nelson scored (defenseman Jon Landry had the Sound Tigers’ other goal), but no one on the team was able to solve Sateri in the shootout, while Poulin yielded two goals to James Sheppard and Tim Kennedy, who has absolutely killed the Sound Tigers this season. Kennedy scored two goals in the game aside from his shootout tally. He now has four goals and four assists in three games against Bridgeport.
I did not see Sunday’s game against Norfolk. I had every intention of watching, but accidentally glimpsed the score, and when I saw it was a 4-1 loss to the Admirals, I decided I had better things to do than watch that unfold knowing how it would end. The scoresheet tells me Nelson had the lone Sound Tigers’ goal with Colin McDonald picking up an assist. Nilsson turned aside 28 of the 32 shots he faced.
The New York Islanders assigned 2010 third-round pick Jason Clark to the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL, according to a release on the Sound Tigers’ website. Clark had only gotten into four games this season for Bridgeport, and despite playing limited minutes when he did dress, he managed two assists.
Niederreiter: 20gp, 10g, 10a, 20 pts
Nelson: 20gp, 9g, 7a, 16 pts
Sundstrom: 20gp, 6g, 6a, 12 pts
Landry: 20gp, 4g, 7a, 11 pts
McDonald: 18gp, 2g, 9a, 11 pts.
Bridgeport visits the Connecticut Whale on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
I guess I’ll try an “after 20 games” analysis, although it’ll definitely be after the Whale game, which would make it 21 games. Maybe I’ll hold off until after 25 games, since that seems to sound better. Either way, it’ll be up sometime soon. I anticipate a pretty good review for Johan Sundstrom, who has quietly worked his way up to third on the team in points and is starting to look like he’s getting accustomed to North American hockey.