BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (January 21, 2017) – Bracken Kearns recorded his second straight multi-point game (one goal, one assist) as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-15-1-1), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, secured a 4-3 win over the Toronto Marlies (16-20-2-1) in their inaugural regular-season meeting on Saturday.
Ryan Pulock also chipped in with three points (one goal, two assist) in the victory, Bridgeport’s third straight overall. In addition, the Sound Tigers moved to within three points of a playoff spot following a Hershey Bears’ loss.
The win at Webster Bank Arena also opened a season-long, seven-game homestand for Bridgeport.
The Sound Tigers opened the scoring with two quick goals in the first period to take a 2-0 advantage. The first tally came courtesy of Ben Holmstrom who gained possession of the puck following Ross Johnston’s wrap-around attempt. His wrap-around missed the net, but landed on Holmstrom’s stick, allowing him to wrist it from the bottom of the left circle past Antoine Bibeau’s glove at the 4:10 mark. Just 69 seconds later, Bridgeport doubled its lead on a tally from Pulock. Kellen Jones fought for possession behind the Toronto net and threw a pass to Pulock at the blue line. There, the defenseman walked into a slap shot at 5:19 of the opening frame.
After a quiet first five minutes of the second period, the Sound Tigers extended their lead to three on Andrew Rowe’s second goal in as many days. Kearns controlled the puck behind the net and slid a pass to Rowe along the end wall. He proceeded to dance his way to the crease before sliding a shot underneath Bibeau’s pads at 4:48 of the middle frame.
Toronto made things interesting with back-to-back goals later in the second to cut their deficit to one. The first tally came on a power-play goal from Andreas Johnsson, his 10th of the season overall. With Josh Holmstrom in the box for boarding, Johnsson took advantage after Kyle Burroughs mishandled the puck at Bridgeport’s doorstep. Johnsson gained possession and forced it past Jaroslav Halak’s glove at 9:54.
Travis Dermott followed with his first professional goal less than five minutes later. After Halak saved an initial shot by Brendan Leipsic, the puck caromed off the boards to Dermott’s stick, allowing him to finish at the 14:50 mark.
Toronto came all the way back to even the score just 1:46 into the third period courtesy of Brett Findlay. In transition, the Marlies found themselves on a 2-on-1 rush, but Halak made a brilliant right-pad save on Kerby Rychel. However, Findlay followed the play and was rewarded on the rebound with his fourth goal of the season.
Kearns sealed the victory with a power-play goal at 4:08 of the third period, his second game-winning goal in as many days. With Viktor Loov in the box serving a double minor for roughing, Devon Teows slid the puck across to Pulock who blasted it on goal. Bibeau couldn’t control the rebound and Kearns was there to backhand it over his glove for his team-leading 16th goal of the season. He also leads the team with 33 points through 38 games, while Toews was credited with an assist, giving him a team-best 21 helpers this season.
The Marlies elected to pull Bibeau in the final three minutes, but it didn’t pay off for the visitors.
Bridgeport finished the contest 1-for-5 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill. Halak (3-1-2) made 30 saves in the win, while Bibeau (7-10-3) stopped 25 shots in Toronto’s loss.
The Marlies outshot the Sound Tigers 33-29.