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SOUND TIGERS Skid puts focus on details, discipline

January 19, 2019

Free-agent signings lengthened the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ lineup this summer to lengths it hadn’t seen in a long time. The emergence of some young players helped secure an outstanding first half.

Call-ups and injuries have come in bunches this month, and going into Saturday’s game against Providence at Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport was in a 1-5-0-1 skid.

“There’s no excuse. We have good depth,” Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson said earlier this week. “It was an opportunity for a lot of guys to step up and get the job done. We weren’t consistent enough through this last six-, seven-game span. I think it was more a function of work ethic, a function of attention to details.”

They’ve lost in different ways, in their past two losses alone. Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and first-place Charlotte shut out the Sound Tigers in a 1-0 game Tuesday. The next night, Nedeljkovic and the Checkers gave up four, but scored six.

“We’ve gotten away from shooting the puck. We’ve gotten away from crashing the net. We’ve gotten away from that hard hockey,” Thompson said.

“And discipline.”

For most of the first half, Bridgeport did take its share of penalties, but it was also drawing penalties at an even higher rate. After 17 games, the Sound Tigers had received 17 more power plays than their opponents.

That number has dwindled to five after 42 games, and while Bridgeport still has averaged the second-most power plays in the AHL going into Saturday (4.86, to Springfield’s 5.07), it had also surrendered the second-most (4.74, to Syracuse’s 4.95).

“If you look at our team now, for whatever reason, whether they’re actual penalties or it’s a penalty that the ref just seems to give us, our discipline has to be better,” Thompson said; the Checkers received six power plays to Bridgeport’s four in both games this week. “That’s a function of moving our feet and effort.”

Bridgeport’s struggles also coincide with a stretch where the Sound Tigers have been away more often than not from home, where they were 12-2-2-1 going into the Providence game. They’ll be home three more times before the all-star break begins next weekend.

The game with Hershey that had been set for Sunday has been rescheduled to Monday at 1 p.m.; tickets will be honored then or can be exchanged for another home game at the Webster Bank Arena box office.

Bridgeport also meets Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday morning and Lehigh Valley on Saturday.

The Sound Tigers sent defenseman Mike Cornell to Worcester (ECHL) on Saturday afternoon.

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

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