BRIDGEPORT, CT – Steve Bernier recorded two points including his team-leading 10th goal of the season on Friday, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (17-13-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, allowed four goals in the third period and suffered a 6-2 loss to the Hershey Bears (18-6-5-2) at the GIANT Center.
Scott Mayfield also found the back of the net as the Sound Tigers dropped the front end of a five-game road trip.
The Bears wasted little time in producing an early lead when Chandler Stephenson notched his fifth goal of the season just 70 seconds into the contest. From the neutral zone, Garrett Mitchell flipped a lead pass in front of Stephenson who sped behind the Bridgeport defense and straight to the crease. He slowed at the doorstep and steered a low shot around Stephon Williams’ right leg pad to make it 1-0.
The Sound Tigers responded at the 10:23 mark with Mayfield’s third goal of the season and second at the GIANT Center. Bernier also deserved tremendous credit for the tally, as the veteran forward carried the puck towards the blue line down the left wing and directed a pin-point pass to the bottom of the right hash marks. There, Mayfield skated onto the puck and wristed a quick shot past Joe Cannata’s glove.
Bernier put Bridgeport on top for the first time with a power-play goal at 4:49 of the second period. Following a tripping minor against Hershey’s Darren Dietz, Bracken Kearns won the ensuing faceoff back to Ryan Pulock, who guided a pass to the right point for Devon Toews. The rookie defenseman proceeded to slam a shot on target that was tipped off the right post and in by Bernier.
Stanislav Galiev answered on the power play at 15:10 of the middle frame to tie the game for a second time. With Connor Jones in the box for boarding, Christian Thomas fed a pass to the low slot where Galiev redirected it past Williams’ glove for his fourth goal of the season.
Hershey pulled away for good with four goals in the final frame to seal the 6-2 final. Liam O’Brien secured the eventual game-winner with a power-play tally at 6:44, following a slashing minor to Kane Lafranchise. Less than four minutes later, Brad Malone made it 4-2 with his sixth goal of the year at the 10:40 mark. Galiev set it up by spinning and centering a backhand feed from the right circle, which allowed Malone to force a quick shot past Williams from the slot.
At 11:30 of the third period, Travis St. Denis was given a match penalty for an inadvertent slew foot, and the Bears went on to score twice on the five-minute power play. Christian Thomas beat Williams low from the doorstep for his team-leading 15th goal of the season at 13:13 before O’Brien nudged home his second tally of the night at the 14:52 mark.
Bridgeport finished the game 1-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-8 of the penalty kill. Williams (4-11-0) made 22 saves in the loss, while Cannata stopped 19 shots in Hershey’s win.
The Bears outshot the Sound Tigers 28-21.