Sound Tigers jump on league-leading Charlotte, win 6-1
Against the best team in the AHL, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers looked like the best team in the AHL on Friday night.
They jumped on the Charlotte Checkers early, capitalized on the power play and on a few bounces, and shut down the Checkers 6-1 at Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C.
Steve Bernier scored twice in the first 7:12, and after the Checkers got one back in the second period, Michael Dal Colle’s seventh goal in his past four games gave the Sound Tigers some breathing room on a five-on-three power play. Sebastian Aho assisted on all three of the Sound Tigers’ power-play goals.
Bridgeport goalie Jeremy Smith made 28 saves in his return to the arena where he played his home games last season, improving to 9-5-1. He was sharp when the game was close, stopping 10 of the Checkers’ 11 shots in the second period.
The Sound Tigers (18-8-4-1) are five points behind the Checkers (22-7-2-0), who had earned 13 of 14 points in their previous seven games. The teams meet again in Charlotte on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Bernier scored 5:17 into the game to cap a good forechecking shift, potting the rebound of Travis St. Denis’ shot after St. Denis kept the puck in the Checkers’ zone. After Chris Casto drew a penalty, Bernier scored again on the power play off a pass from Ryan Hitchcock, with Aho going to the net.
Andrew Poturalski scored for Charlotte off a Bridgeport turnover 8:07 into the second, but Dal Colle’s five-on-three goal, Mitch Vande Sompel’s goal on his end-to-end rush (off a post, off goalie Scott Darling and in) and Scott Eansor’s backhander off a blocked Kyle Burroughs shot gave the Sound Tigers a 5-1 lead after two.
Chris Bourque finished it off on a late power play.
Tanner Fritz (lower body) missed his third Bridgeport game in a row but took part in Friday’s morning skate.
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SOUND TIGERS 6, CHECKERS 1
Bridgeport2 3 1—6
Charlotte0 1 0—1
First Period — 1, Bridgeport, Bernier 11 (St. Denis), 5:17. 2, Bridgeport, Bernier 12 (Hitchcock, Aho), 7:12 (pp). Penalties — Geekie, Cha (hooking), 6:40.
Second Period — 3, Charlotte, Poturalski 11 (Saarela), 8:07. 4, Bridgeport, Dal Colle 16 (C.Bourque, Aho), 10:29 (pp). 5, Bridgeport, Vande Sompel 4, 15:12. 6, Bridgeport, Eansor 2 (Burroughs), 19:58. Penalties — Renouf, Cha (interference), 8:37; Bishop, Cha (boarding), 10:09; Wotherspoon, Bpt (holding), 12:39.
Third Period — 7, Bridgeport, C.Bourque 7 (Aho, Koivula), 14:44. Penalties — Bellows, Bpt (interference), 8:23; McKegg, Cha (roughing), 13:05; Renouf, Cha, misconduct, 13:21; Helgeson, Bpt, minor-major (cross-checking, fighting), 17:34; Schilkey, Cha (goaltender interference), 17:34; Bishop, Cha, major (fighting), 17:34.
Shots on goal — Bridgeport 11-10-6—27. Charlotte 6-11-12—29.
Power play opportunities — Bridgeport 3 of 4, Charlotte 0 of 2.
Goaltenders — Bridgeport, Smith 9-5-1 (29 shots-28 saves). Charlotte, Darling 3-2-0 (27-21).
Attendance — 6,518. Referees — Faist, Fernandez. Linesmen — Shiley, Wicklum.