SOUND TIGERS Sound Tigers fall to Rochester in shootout
ROCHESTER, N.Y . —The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-9-4-2) opened the new year with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Rochester Americans (21-11-2-0) at Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday. Despite the setback, the Sound Tigers collected a point for the ninth time in their last 10 games (7-1-1-1).
Matt Gaudreau (one goal, one assist) and Tanner Fritz (one goal, one assist) led the way for Bridgeport, including Gaudreau’s first AHL goal early in the second period, while Jeremy Smith (11-5-2) made 25 saves on 29 shots. Otto Koivula and Ryan Bourque also scored for the visitors. The Sound Tigers continue to sit second in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, three behind the league-leading Charlotte Checkers.
Rochester grabbed the game’s first goal just past the midway mark of the opening period when Kyle Criscuolo potted his third tally of the season. He kept the Sound Tigers from clearing their zone and made them pay with a wrist shot that beat Smith’s reaching glove. Criscuolo circled to the high slot and ripped the unassisted tally into the back of the cage at the 10:18 mark.
Koivula netted his third goal in as many games and tied the contest on the power play less than seven minutes later. With Justin Bailey in the box serving a slashing minor - the first penalty of the game — Koivula cleaned up a scramble between the circles for his 10th goal of the season at 16:47. Chris Bourque fired a wrist shot that was blocked down in front before Gaudreau and Fritz teamed up to assist Koivula in the slot. He buried his forehand shot glove side on Scott Wedgewood for Bridgeport’s 42nd first-period goal, which ranks second in the league.
Gaudreau celebrated his first AHL goal just 48 seconds into the second period and helped the Sound Tigers capture their first lead of the night. Mike Sislo skated past defenseman Will Borgen on the right wing and drifted near the bottom of the circle before guiding a sharp-angle shot at Wedgewood. The Amerks goaltender redirected it to the doorstep where Gaudreau finished the play to make it 2-1.
Fritz doubled Bridgeport’s advantage with his fifth goal of the season at 3:32 of the middle frame. Sebastian Aho gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone and created an opportunity for Fritz by finding him in stride over the blue line. Fritz soared down the right wing and picked the short side on Wedgewood for his fifth goal of the year.
The Amerks bounced back and got to within one at 7:10 of the second period when Daniel O’Regan capitalized for the 12th time this season. Victor Olofsson sprung Criscuolo on a two-on-one into the Sound Tigers’ zone and Criscuolo slipped a cross-ice pass to the back post through the low slot. A charging O’Regan met the pass and directed it across the goal line just before the net was knocked off its pegs to make it 3-2.
Andrew MacWilliam put the Americans back even with his first goal since Apr. 6, 2016 and his first with Rochester. Tyler Randell settled the puck behind Bridgeport’s net and filtered a backhand pass to the doorstep, where chaos ensued. Eric Cornell pushed it off of Smith’s pads and MacWilliam finished the effort at 3:11 of the third period to make it 3-3.
Bourque gave the Sound Tigers their final lead at the 6:13 mark when he deflected Parker Wotherspoon’s long shot from the blue line. Ryan Hitchcock found Wotherspoon at the left point and the second-year defenseman forced a shot towards the crease that Bourque altered in the slot for his third goal of the year. It nearly stood as the game-winner until Rasmus Asplund knotted the contest again with just 11.9 seconds left in regulation. Alex Nylander swept a diagonal pass to the back post for Asplund’s tap-in tally while Rochester skated a man up with Wedgewood on the bench.
Following a frantic five-minute overtime session that saw four combined shots but no goals, Olofsson scored the only tally in a three-round shootout to seal Rochester’s come-from-behind win. Chris Bourque, Koivula and Kieffer Bellows all came up empty for Bridgeport in the shootout.
The Sound Tigers finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Rochester outshot Bridgeport 30-26, while Wedgewood (12-6-1) made 22 saves for the Amerks.
UP NEXT: The Sound Tigers continue a six-game road trip this Friday with their first of two matchups against the Syracuse Crunch this season. The pucks at 7 p.m. inside the Oncenter War Memorial Arena. Fans can follow all of the live action online via the Sound Tigers Radio Network and AHLTV, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
NEXT HOME GAME: The Sound Tigers return to Webster Bank Arena on Saturday, Jan. 12 for Military Appreciation Night against the Hartford Wolf Pack, presented by the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut. The first 2,000 fans will receive a camouflage hat when doors open at 6 p.m. and fans are encouraged to look into a $25 ticket package (tickets at the box office are regularly $31 in this seating area) that includes a ticket to the game and a military themed Sound Tigers t-shirt! A portion of this ticket package will also be donated to the BBB Foundation to support scholarships for children of military members from Connecticut.
SMITH HONORED: Sound Tigers goalie Jeremy Smith was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for December. Smith went 6-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.
AMERICANS 5, SOUND TIGERS 4 (SO)
Bridgeport1 2 1 0 0—4
Rochester1 1 2 0 1—5
First Period — 1, Rochester, Criscuolo 3, 10:18. 2, Bridgeport, Koivula 10 (Fritz, Gaudreau), 16:47 (pp). Penalties — Bailey, Roc (slashing), 15:07; Bellows, Bpt (hooking), 17:09; O’Regan, Roc (tripping), 18:05.
Second Period — 3, Bridgeport, Gaudreau 1 (Sislo), :48. 4, Bridgeport, Fritz 5 (Aho), 3:32. 5, Rochester, O’Regan 12 (Criscuolo, Olofsson), 7:10. Penalties — Nylander, Roc (high-sticking), 3:32; Wotherspoon, Bpt (hooking), 16:04; Tennyson, Roc (interference), 16:54; Aho, Bpt (tripping), 18:05.
Third Period — 6, Rochester, MacWilliam 1 (Cornel, Randell), 3:11. 7, Bridgeport, R.Bourque 3 (Wotherspoon, Hitchcock), 6:13. 8, Rochester, Asplund 2 (Nylander, Redmond), 19:48 (ea). Penalties — R.Bourque, Bpt (hooking), 8:32.
Overtime — No scoring. Penalties — None.
Shootout — Rochester, Olofsson G, Simpson NG, O’Regan NG. Bridgeport, C.Bourque NG, Koivula NG, Bellows NG.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 7-8-8-3-0—26. Rochester 9-8-11-1-1—30.
Power play opportunities — Bridgeport 1 of 4, Rochester 0 of 4.
Goaltenders — Bridgeport, Smith 11-5-2 (29 shots-25 saves). Rochester, Wedgewood 12-6-1 (26-22).
Attendance — 3,487. Referees — South, Tapper. Linesmen — Carissimo, Sylvester.