AHL: Sound Tigers at Phantoms Phantoms shut door on Sound Tigers
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The 2017-18 Atlantic Division banner hangs over the visitors’ end at PPL Center, and for at least one night, the defending champs looked awfully familiar to a team that’s trying to take the crown away.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms took advantage of Bridgeport Sound Tigers mistakes, opened a big lead in the second period and withstood Bridgeport’s late push in a 6-3 Phantoms win Saturday night in the teams’ season opener.
“I think you look at the second half of that game and we played pretty well,” Bridgeport co-captain Kyle Burroughs said. “They had some opportunistic chances. Those are things we want to clean up, off the rush, a little bit of communication, stuff like that, but for the most part I think just things to clean up.”
Bridgeport was chasing in its 18th-season opener from six minutes into the game, when the Phantoms scored their first of two goals that came moments after a power play.
Though Bridgeport created some chances, Carter Hart stopped 31 shots in winning his pro debut.
“We outchanced them, like, bad. Bad,” said Bridgeport’s Josh Ho-Sang, who was involved in a few of those chances. “They’re just a clinical team. That’s their bread and butter. They score. They rarely miss their Grade-A’s.
“We probably outchanced them like 20-8 but they scored six of them. That’s the way they play. They’re very good at that style of hockey, unfortunately for us.”
The Phantoms beat Bridgeport seven out of eight times last year, including a couple of times when the Sound Tigers outchanced, outshot and outplayed them to no avail.
A couple of Bridgeport’s key newcomers came together on the Sound Tigers’ first goal when veteran Chris Bourque’s right-circle shot hit Kieffer Bellows’ skate and caromed in, a power-play goal in Bellows’ first professional game.
“I saw the guys celebrating and felt it hit my skate,” Bellows said. “Lucky.”
They didn’t have a lot more luck. When the Phantoms led 1-0 early in the second period, Hart stopped Bellows on a breakaway. Bridgeport kept the pressure on before Parker Wotherspoon fanned on a shot, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel headed up-ice with the puck. He beat Christopher Gibson on the partial break to make it 2-0. Aube-Kubel scored again five minutes later on the rush moments after a power play expired.
“I had a breakaway, made a move that I thought would work,” Bellows said. “Carter’s a really good goalie. I played a lot against him last year in the WHL and World Juniors. I tried to make a move, but he made a great save.”
Bridgeport is carrying one more veteran than can pay on a given night, so captain Ben Holmstrom sat out, ending a streak of 228 consecutive games. Burroughs, who was named co-captain earlier in the week, wore the ‘C’ for the first time.
Newcomers were sprinkled through the forward corps, though the returning unit of Michael Dal Colle, Connor Jones and Ho-Sang had some chemistry. Ho-Sang set up Mitch Vande Sompel for a power-play goal in the third, then set up Dal Colle 17 seconds later.
An empty-netter sealed it for the Phantoms.
“I think (their style) is something we need to prepare for, because I’m not dealing with that this year with this team. I can’t stand it. I can’t, just because we come to work,” Ho-Sang said. “We can’t get beat by a team we outwork.”
PHANTOMS 6, SOUND TIGERS 3
Bridgeport0 1 2—3
Lehigh Valley1 2 3—6
First Period — 1, Lehigh Valley, Carey 1 (Myers, Aube-Kubel), 5:52. Penalties — Toews, Bpt (boarding), 3:40; Bardreau, LV (boarding), 12:34.
Second Period — 2, Lehigh Valley, Aube-Kubel 1, 2:00. 3, Lehigh Valley, Aube-Kubel 2 (Varone, Carey), 6:51. 4, Bridgeport, Bellows 1 (C.Bourque, Aho), 16:54 (pp). Penalties — Ho-Sang, Bpt (elbowing), 4:45; Wotherspoon, Bpt (interference), 8:56; Lehigh Valley bench, served Vecchione (too many men), 10:30; Bardreau, LV (holding), 16:19; Jones, Bpt (roughing), 19:47; Friedman, LV (slashing), 19:47.
Third Period — 5, Lehigh Valley, Rubtsov 1 (Kase, Friedman), 7:50. 6, Lehigh Valley, Carey 2 (Brennan, Friedman), 8:41. 7, Bridgeport, Vande Sompel 1 (Ho-Sang, Dal Colle), 11:01 (pp). 8, Bridgeport, Dal Colle 1 (Ho-Sang, Vande Sompel), 11:18. 9, Lehigh Valley, Varone 1 (McDonald, Goulbourne), 19:18 (en). Penalties — Jones, Bpt (roughing), 4:34; Myers, LV (hooking), 8:55; de Haas, LV (cross-checking), 9:25.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 10-11-13—34. Lehigh Valley 10-10-9—29.
Power play opportunities — Bridgeport 2 of 5, Lehigh Valley 0 of 4.
Goaltenders — Bridgeport, Gibson 0-1-0 (28 shots-23 saves). Lehigh Valley, Hart 1-0-0 (34-31).
Attendance — 8,707. Referees — Deckard, Tufts. Linesmen — L.Murray, Ritter.