BRIDGEPORT, CT – The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (16-11-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, scored three times in the second period on Saturday, but suffered a 5-3 loss to the Syracuse Crunch (16-6-0-3) in a wild and penalty filled affair at Webster Bank Arena.
Ryan Pulock and Stephen Gionta each earned their first goals of the season and Scott Mayfield netted his second tally of the year, all coming just 8:08 apart in the middle frame. However, Saturday’s contest will likely be remembered for the chaos that ensued at 9:24 of the second period when 108 combined penalty minutes were handed out, including six game misconducts and a goalie tilt between Stephon Williams and Kristers Gudlevskis.
With the loss, the Sound Tigers enter Christmas break on a four-game slide, dating back Dec. 11th. They also completed the two-game season series with the Crunch 1-1-0-0.
Syracuse commanded the first period, scoring a trio of goals in a span of 62 seconds to build a 3-0 advantage. The first came with just one second left on a power play courtesy of Brian Hart. With Connor Jones in the box for hooking, Ben Thomas blasted a shot from the right point, which Hart deflected in front. His redirection lifted the puck into the air, where it slowly floated over Eamon McAdam’s glove at the 14:01 mark. It was Hart’s second goal in as many nights.
Yanni Gourde doubled Syracuse’s lead just 46 seconds later with his eighth tally of the season. Mathieu Brodeur controlled the puck in the offensive zone and sent a pass to the front of the net, where Gourde finished it high over McAdam’s glove at 14:47.
Another 16 seconds later, Jeremy Morin made it a 3-0 game when he delivered on a rebound chance from the doorstep. Jake Dotchin hammered a shot on goal from the blue line that McAdam initially stopped by couldn’t control, allowing Morin to slide in the rebound at 15:03. The goal chased McAdam from between the pipes for the second time this week.
The second period was completely different as the Sound Tigers turned the tides with three goals of their own. It also included a nasty sequence of events at the 9:24mark. Gionta netted his first goal as a Sound Tiger with a rebound tally following Kellen Jones’ shot from the blue line. As Gionta led Bridgeport through the high-five line at the bench, Luke Witkowski slashed Scott Mayfield, beginning a fight in the neutral zone between the two of them. Shortly after, the remaining skaters on the ice created a mob scene between the benches, while Williams and Gudlevskis exited their respective creases and dropped the gloves near center ice.
Six players received game misconducts following the altercation, which ended their nights prior to the halfway mark. Those players included: Williams, Gudlevskis, Jones, Patrick Cullity, Daniel Walcott, Dotchin. Witkowski also received a 10-minute misconduct for continuing the altercation, while Mayfield was only given a five-minute fighting major.
After order was restored, Bridgeport continued its comeback and made it 3-2 courtesy of Pulock at even strength. Devon Toews slid a pass across the blue line to Pulock on the left side, where the Islanders prospect hammered a shot over the blocker of goaltender Adam Wilcox, who relieved Gudievskis after the fight.
The Sound Tigers evened the game late in the second period when Mayfield connected for his second goal of the season. Bracken Kearns directed a pass to Mayfield at the top of the right circle, who wristed a shot over Wilcox’s glove at 17:38.
Syracuse followed with a pair of goals to seal the game at 5-3. The eventual game-winning goal came with just 3.5 seconds left in the second period from former Sound Tigers forward Mike Halmo. Matt Taormina passed it to Halmo in the slot, where he filtered a shot past McAdam’s pads at the 19:56 mark. Adam Comrie notched the final goal at 5:53 of the third period when he shot a rocket from the left point on the power play. With Toews in the box for high-sticking, Comrie’s shot beat McAdam’s blocker to cap the scoring.
The Sound Tigers finished the contest 0-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Bridgeport was outshot by Syracuse, 25-23.