Sound Tigers Gibson sharp in shootout loss to Hershey Bears
BRIDGEPORT — It wasn’t that the Bridgeport Sound Tigers needed Christopher Gibson to come back off Wednesday’s four goals against in a period and a half, or that Gibson needed a strong performance Sunday. They know the kind of goaltender he has been for them the past four years.
But Gibson gave them a brilliant game at Webster Bank Arena, giving up just one power-play goal and making bunches of big saves, in Hershey’s 2-1 shootout win over the Sound Tigers.
“It was defintely a bounce-back game,” Gibson said. “There’s only a few games left before the playoffs start. Everyone wants to play their best. As a team, we have to play the way that we played this weekend.”
After Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Charlotte, the Sound Tigers beat the Checkers 2-1 on Saturday. The point they earned Sunday getting to overtime dropped their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to two points; that can happen with a win Tuesday morning.
Gibson made 26 saves, 11 in the second period as the third-place Bears, six points now behind the second-place Sound Tigers, used a five-minute power play to score their only goal and generate shots.
“Again we got great goaltending,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “He was rock-solid for us. He made the saves we needed. We couldn’t ask for better.”
Bridgeport is 4-1-1-1 on its eight-game homestand, which ends with Tuesday’s game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Only six games remain in the regular season.
“These two games, our compete level was a lot better than it was Wednesday. We had everybody pulling the rope in the same direction,” Bridgeport captain Ben Holmstrom said.
“Two playoff-style games. We’re battling for points. .... The last two games are what we’re going to see in playoffs, tight games.”
Hershey’s goal came after Bridgeport’s Kieffer Bellows was ejected for an altercation with the Bears’ Garrett Pilon. The two players were tangled after colliding into the boards in front of the Bears’ bench; when they got up, it appeared a Hershey player gave Bellows a shove from the bench. Bellows dropped his gloves and threw punches.
When the penalties were sorted out, Bellows’ fighting major was the difference. Steven Whitney scored about three minutes into the five-minute power play. Bridgeport wanted the goal disallowed for interference, particularly after seeing a replay on the arena scoreboard, saying Whitney had made contact with Gibson in the crease.
“To me it didn’t look like he had a chance to make a save,” Holmstrom said. “Gibby played a great game for us. He made some great saves at the right times.
“It’s tough, but thats the way the game goes. Sometimes that goes our way and we’ve got a guy on top of their goalie. You hope you get those bounces when it’s playoff time.”
Bridgeport scored 2:50 into the game on a five-on-three. Josh Ho-Sang waited for a lane to open up and set up Sebastian Aho for a one-timer from the right circle.
Chris Bourque got the second assist, his 744th in the AHL, tying for 20th on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Attendance was 5,859.
The parent New York Islanders announced that Tanner Fritz will miss six to eight weeks. Fritz developed a blood clot in his hand that required surgery, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters Sunday morning. Fritz is one of three Islanders eligible to return to Bridgeport at any time.
HERSHEY BEARS 2,
SOUND TIGERS 1 (SO)
Hershey0 1 0 0 1—2
Bridgeport1 0 0 0 0—1
First Period — 1, Bridgeport, Aho 8 (Ho-Sang, C.Bourque), 2:50 (pp). Penalties — Pilon, Her (hooking), 1:33; Hershey bench, served Whitney (too many men), 1:33; Gionta, Bpt (cross-checking), 4:01; Hutton, Bpt (tripping), 7:37; Burroughs, Bpt (tripping), 12:46; Lewington, Her (roughing), 18:04.
Second Period — 2, Hershey, Whitney 6 (Barber, Walker), 13:12 (pp). Penalties — Stevens, Bpt (tripping), 3:14; Lewington, Her (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:18; Malenstyn, Her, misconduct, 10:18; Bellows, Bpt, minor-major-misconduct-game misconduct (instigating, fighting), 10:18.
Third Period — No scoring. Penalties — Gersich, Her (goaltender interference), 13:38; Malenstyn, Her (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:57; C.Bourque, Bpt (tripping), 14:57.
Overtime — No scoring. Penalties — None.
Shootout — Hershey, Barber G, Walker NG, Smith-Pelly G; Bridgeport, Lorito G, C.Bourque NG, St. Denis NG.
Shots on goal — Hershey 6-12-8-0-1—27. Bridgeport 5-7-5-5-0—22.
Power play opportunities — Hershey 1 of 6, Bridgeport 1 of 4.
Goaltenders — Hershey, Vanecek 18-10-5 (22 shots-21 saves). Bridgeport, Gibson 19-11-5 (27-26).
Attendance — 5,859. Referees — O’Donnell, Rekucki. Linesmen — Colby, Simeon.