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ahl: checkers at sound tigers Ho-Sang powers Tigers

February 18, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — Glimpses of Josh Ho-Sang’s skill and flair had become fewer and further between in recent weeks. Sitting out Friday, he had been scratched from four out of six Bridgeport Sound Tigers games.

Sunday, he tied a team record with five points as Bridgeport came from behind to beat league-leading Charlotte 7-3 at Webster Bank Arena. The Sound Tigers scored the last six goals, and Ho-Sang was in on all but one of them, scoring three.

“It’s just so relieving, more than anything. For me, it’s been a tough couple of weeks,” said Ho-Sang, who before this weekend had just four assists in 11 games since the New York Islanders sent him down on Jan 8.

“It’s the longest I’ve been without offensive production in my hockey career. It starts off as two games, then it’s five games, and then it’s 10 games, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’ ”

A turnover-filled Feb. 1 game was his last for a week. He sat out one more Friday as Bridgeport rotated players through three games in three days; only eight out of 26 healthy players took part in all three this weekend.

Ho-Sang returned Saturday with a goal in an overtime win over Hartford, then had a natural hat trick in Sunday’s third period, including an empty-netter.

“I think you see a kid who’s playing on his toes, aggressive, working,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “He was good away from the puck. He was pretty solid defensively. If you look at that, he’s building. He’s trending in the right direction. The offensive gifts are always there. You just saw them with the work ethic that took them to another level.”

It did not hurt that he had two NHLers as teammates for the second game in a row.

Forward Andrew Ladd and defenseman Thomas Hickey played their second and perhaps final games on a conditioning assignment from the parent Islanders. Both said they felt good after injuries that had kept them out awhile, and both had three points Sunday. Hickey found a wide-open Ho-Sang for his first goal, which made it 5-3.

In the second period, Tanner Fritz was moved to center with Ladd and Ho-Sang, where he had been Saturday night.

“This is the first weekend I’ve played with Fritzy in a couple of years,” Ho-Sang said. “Fritzy’s an NHL player. Ladder’s an NHL player. For me, I know I can play with anyone when I’m playing well, but the last couple of weeks, I haven’t been playing my best hockey. It was really nice to have guys who can pick me up, and I can play off them.

“For me, that’s important that they get a lot of recognition. I kind of came out of the slump this weekend because of them. Obviously Ladder played great, Fritzy played great, and you’ve got the genius (Hickey) on the back end.”

Attendance was 3,000.

The Checkers pulled goalie Callum Booth for an extra attacker with 7:23 left, trailing by two. Ho-Sang hit the post on a try for the empty-net (”ridiculous,” he said) but put the rebound away with 5:19 left. He finished the hat trick on a five-on-three power play with 1:49 to go.

Charlotte took a 2-0 lead early in the second; Bridgeport got on the board two minutes later, John Stevens burying a rebound after Booth put a pass off a teammate’s skate.

A power-play goal restored Charlotte’s two-goal lead before Hickey scored a goal, then set up Steve Bernier for the tying goal at the right post.

Hickey was packing his bag after the game. Chris Bourque asked him if he didn’t want to stay.

Then Ho-Sang intercepted a pass that sparked a shift that ended with Sebastian Aho’s game-winner, on his 23rd birthday, with 2:30 left in the second period.

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp; http://blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio

SOUND TIGERS 7, CHECKERS 3

Charlotte1 2 0—3

Bridgeport0 4 3—7

First Period — 1, Charlotte, Schilkey 11 (Gauthier, Didier), 9:22. Penalties — Stortini, Cha (interference), 5:48; Sanguinetti, Cha (tripping), 12:45.

Second Period — 2, Charlotte, Renouf 2 (Nastasiuk, Kuokkanen), 1:45. 3, Bridgeport, Stevens 2 (Bernier), 3:49. 4, Charlotte, Saarela 17 (Bean, Necas), 7:12 (pp). 5, Bridgeport, Hickey 2 (Ho-Sang, Helgeson), 8:42. 6, Bridgeport, Bernier 17 (Hickey, Lorito), 13:46. 7, Bridgeport, Aho 5 (Ladd, Ho-Sang), 17:30. Penalties — Wotherspoon, Bpt (interference), 5:14.

Third Period — 8, Bridgeport, Ho-Sang 4 (Hickey, Ladd), 7:38. 9, Bridgeport, Ho-Sang 5 (Ladd, Fritz), 14:41 (en). 10, Bridgeport, Ho-Sang 6 (Aho, Lorito), 18:11 (pp). Penalties — Brown, Cha (hooking), 1:13; Stortini, Cha (interference), 17:08; Charlotte bench, served Saarela (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:08; Carrick, Cha (tripping), 19:05; Ladd, Bpt (tripping), 19:39.

Shots on goal — Charlotte 5-16-7—28. Bridgeport 7-19-7—33.

Power play opportunities — Charlotte 1 of 1, Bridgeport 1 of 6.

Goaltenders — Charlotte, Booth 4-2-1 (32 shots-26 saves). Bridgeport, Gibson 16-9-4 (28-25).

Attendance — 3,000. Referees — T.Murray, Gour. Linesmen — Galvin, Hanrahan.