ALLENTOWN, Penn. (October 20, 2017) – The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1-3-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, scored twice in the span of 47 seconds midway through the third period on Friday to battle back against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4-1-0-1), but suffered a 5-2 loss at the PPL Center.
Steve Bernier and Ben Holmstrom each found the back of the net in the final 14 minutes to help Bridgeport pull within one, but Danick Martel scored twice and recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick to help Lehigh Valley to its third straight victory. Kristers Gudlevskis (1-1-0-0) made 27 saves on 31 shots for the Sound Tigers.
Greg Carey, who led the Phantoms in goals last season, opened the scoring just 4:36 into the first period with his third tally of the season. At even strength, Carey collected a pass from Phil Varone and skated to the left circle where he wired a snap shot over Gudlevskis’ left shoulder. Mark Friedman also earned a helper.
Casey Bailey nearly tied the game with a shorthanded chance midway through the first period, but was robbed by goaltender Dustin Tokarski at the goal line. With Seth Helgeson in the box for slashing, Bailey forced a shot on goal from the hash marks just as Tokarski fell horizontally, but the ninth-year netminder reached out his glove and snagged the puck from the air just ahead of the line.
Instead, the Phantoms extended their lead to 3-0 with a pair of goals in the second period courtesy of Martel and Chris Connor. Martel struck first at the 14:23 mark when Mike Vecchione and Samuel Morin set him up at the doorstep for a high-percentage chance that the third-year forward capitalized on. Less than five minutes later, Connor notched a shorthanded goal after Bridgeport struggled to enter its offensive zone. Steven Swavely poked the puck free in the neutral zone and raced after it before sliding a pass to Connor at the right hash marks for a one-time tally.
The Sound Tigers bounced back to make it 3-2 with a pair of goals 47 seconds apart in the third period, beginning with Bernier’s third goal of the season at 6:23. Following a turnover in the neutral zone, Tanner Fritz turned the corner and setup a 3-on-1 rush into the Phantoms zone before he fed the puck to Bernier on the left wing for a wrist shot past Tokarski’s blocker.
Holmstrom followed with his first tally of the season at the 7:10 mark, redirecting Helgeson’s slap shot from the blue line under Tokarski’s left pad. Sebastian Aho also collected his second assist of the season.
Lehigh Valley ended Bridgeport’s momentum and pulled ahead by two at 17:49 of the final frame, courtesy of Martel’s second goal of the evening and his league-leading seventh of the season. Mark Alt pushed the puck to Martel behind the Sound Tigers net, allowing Martel to capitalize on a backhanded wraparound shot inside the left post. Phil Varone capped the scoring with an empty-net tally at 19:46, assisted by Martel and Alt.
The Phantoms outshot the Sound Tigers 33-32, while both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play. Tokarski (1-0-0) made 31 saves in Lehigh Valley’s win.
The contest also included one fight at 4:51 of the second period when Martel dropped the gloves with Kyle Burroughs.