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St. Denis finds scoring touch, Sound Tigers down Binghamton

December 4, 2016 GMT

BRIDGEPORT — He made an impression with the way he was working in practice, seeking the first pro goal that had eluded him for a month and a half.

Travis St. Denis’ work paid off into game-winning goals in back-to-back nights. He opened the scoring Saturday in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ 4-0 win over Binghamton at Webster Bank Arena and scored again late.

“It was nice to get the monkey off my back last night,” said St. Denis, who scored a power-play goal in the third period Friday night in Springfield in a 3-1 win. “I’d been watching a couple of games from the stands the past 10 or so games, and I learned a lot watching up top.”

St. Denis came into the weekend sitting on three assists in 13 games.

“It’s good to see success,” said goalie Stephon Williams, who made 37 saves and came up big, especially big early on.

“St. Denis getting goals like he did, there’s a kid — I think you go around the locker room, you see the work ethic they put out there, and a guy like St. Denis tonight gets rewarded. It’s really good to see.”

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Bridgeport has won seven out of eight. St. Denis, who scored 22 goals last year for Quinnipiac, sat out two of those eight games, and he was also scratched in back-to-back games earlier in November.

“Listen, I think it’s tough at times for guys coming out of college, coming out of junior,” coach Brent Thompson said. “You’re a goal-scorer, an elite player, and now you’re going against men who’ve been doing it for 10 years. You’ve got to get used to the pace, the tempo, the time you have with the puck.”

That’s what St. Denis said he noticed when he’d sit out.

“I felt at the start of the year I was rushing, not moving my feet,” St. Denis said. “I noticed up top that I had more time.”

Saturday, he finished off a scramble at the front of the net 11:30 in, Bridgeport’s first shot on goal. In the third, with a goal for the highlight reel, he took a pass from Michael Dal Colle in the slot, juked his way around Francis Perron and beat Matt O’Connor over the glove.

“I had a little bit of space, and I saw their D kind of crouch down,” St. Denis said. “I did a little fake on him. I had the same kind of chance earlier, the goalie went down, but I didn’t get it high enough.”

He did the second time.

Attendance for Star Wars night was 5,012. Fans got knockoff lightsabers, and the Sound Tigers wore jerseys modeled after X-Wing pilots’ uniforms from the original movie.

Williams earned his second AHL shutout. He stopped 29 out of 30 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton shots in his last start, a 1-0 loss last Saturday.

“I’m just trying to get better, competing as hard as I can,” Williams said, “and having fun.”

Josh Winquist and Steve Bernier sat out injured, and Connor Jones got a four-game AHL suspension for a check he delivered Friday.

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Josh Ho-Sang and Carter Verhaeghe returned after being scratched Friday, and Stephen Gionta made his season debut after a broken fibula sidelined him in NHL training camp.

Ho-Sang got two assists in his return, his first points in five games. He got the puck to the net on the power play in the first period, and Tanner Fritz’s second whack went in. In the third, he fed Bracken Kearns across the top of the crease to give Kearns an open net.

Scott Mayfield returned to the Bridgeport lineup, sent down from the New York Islanders on Friday. Ryan Pulock got Saturday off to avoid playing three games in three days as he returns from injury; he’s expected to play Sunday.

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp

SOUND TIGERS 4, SENATORS 0

BINGHAMTON0 0 0—0

BRIDGEPORT2 0 2—4

First Period — 1, Bridgeport, St. Denis 2 (Rowe, Graham), 11:30. 2, Bridgeport, Fritz 6 (Ho-Sang, St. Denis), 14:23 (pp). Penalties — J.Holmstrom, Bpt (interference), 1:01; Fritz, Bpt (hooking), 2:24; Nehring, Bin (tripping), 12:27.

Second Period — No scoring. Penalties — St. Denis, Bpt (high-sticking), 3:20; Bailey, Bin (slashing), 5:50; St. Denis, Bpt (delay of game), 10:17; Kostka, Bin (cross-checking), 14:28.

Third Period — 3, Bridgeport, Kearns 7 (Ho-Sang, Graham), 13:09. 4, Bridgeport, St. Denis 3 (Dal Colle), 17:14. Penalties — Flanagan, Bin (roughing), 3:06; St. Denis, Bpt (roughing), 3:06; Ho-Sang, Bpt (tripping), 10:19.

Shots on goal — Binghamton 14-8-15—37. Bridgeport 9-10-9—28.

Power play opportunities — Binghamton 0 of 5, Bridgeport 1 of 3.

Goaltenders — Binghamton, O’Connor 2-7-1 (28 shots-24 saves). Bridgeport, Williams 3-6-0 (37-37).

Attendance — 5,012. Referees — Voss, Mullen. Linesmen — Baker, Colby.