AHL Playoff-style tests continue for Sound Tigers
BRIDGEPORT — The run of playoff teams coming through Webster Bank Arena the past week has been impressive: Toronto, Belleville and Syracuse have all come in to face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who’ve acquitted themselves well at home against some of the North Division’s top teams.
Next up for the Sound Tigers’ next two games: The best in their own division, the best in the AHL, the Charlotte Checkers.
“I think it’s good for us, get us prepared for the playoffs, playing against top teams,” veteran forward Chris Bourque said.
“It’s good to see the other division. Our plan is to win it all, so to see what we’re going up against there, and see the teams we have to go through, and especially these next two games against Charlotte, it’s going to be a good test for us. It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere. We’re really looking forward to it.”
The Checkers visit Bridgeport on Wednesday and Saturday with a trip to Hartford in between. Wins in all three would clinch the Atlantic Division championship for Charlotte.
“They’re fast. They’re skilled. They’re really good at transition,” Bourque said of the Checkers. “They thrive off other teams’ turnovers and making plays through the neutral zone.
“We’ve got to limit our turnovers and play a physical game against them.”
Bridgeport has split six games with the Checkers this season, last seeing them Feb. 17 in Bridgeport. That was the fourth of what became a seven-game home winning streak for the Sound Tigers, whose only regulation loss at home in the past 10 was last week’s 2-1 overtime loss to Toronto.
“At the end of the day, we’re playing playoff-style hockey now. It doesn’t matter the time, the opponent: We have to worry about ourselves and how we approach the game,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said.
“I know they’re a great hockey team. We have to respect them. At the end of the day, it’s how we play, our structure, how we play as a group of five.”
Bridgeport’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is seven points, and if everything goes right for the Sound Tigers here and out of town, it could be accomplished by Saturday.
CARPENTER SIGNS: The Sound Tigers’ parent club, the New York Islanders, announced they have signed Boston University senior Bobo Carpenter to a two-year contract that begins next season.
Carpenter will likely join the Sound Tigers soon on an amateur tryout. The forward is the son of longtime NHL centerman Bobby Carpenter and the younger brother of women’s pro forward Alex Carpenter, whose overtime goal won the 2016 World Championship for the United States.
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