Behind Enemy Lines: “Sound Tigers December Struggles”
After flying so high at the beginning of this 2015/16 American Hockey League season, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have, with losses in their last five consecutive games and only two wins to show from their last ten contests, suddenly crashed back down to earth in recent weeks. A lack of offense has been at the root of the problem, with the Sound Tigers having scored three or more goals in just two of their last ten games. There is little question that Bridgeport, who have dropped down to fourth place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division standings, arrive in Allentown and face off against the Hamilton Street Heroes looking to get into bounce back mode.
One player who will not be on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers bus heading down 7th Street is Kirill Petrov, the 25-year-old fringe Russia national team player who recently left the AHL club and has gone back to his homeland, it was announced on December 20th. The 200-pound winger in his rookie pro season in North America had just returned to actively duty for Bridgeport after missing roughly a month with a broken foot. Petrov, who has only skated in 13 AHL games (1 go, 5 pts, 10 pen, + 1 def) this term, was officially sent out on loan by the New York Islanders to his old club, Ak Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League – which means that, technically, the disenchanted Russian could return to the Sound Tigers after the KHL season ends even if that is highly unlikely.
One player who is not necessarily in form for the slumping Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the moment is none other than Joe Whitney. Nevertheless, the small but skillful 27-year-old veteran left wing out of Boston College who signed as a high price free agent ($ 275,000) after leaving the Albany Devils this past summer is still ranked third on the AHL scoring chart having totaled 28 points (11 go, 17 as) in 28 games. This despite the fact that the normally productive Whitney has just two assists in his last six games.
In fact, toss out two hat tricks that Whitney registered in separate contests against the intra-state rival Hartford Wolf Pack (on November 28th as well as on December 6th) and the Sound Tigers ace has actually gone goal-less in 18 consecutive AHL games.
Solid goaltending certainly has been one of the keys to the success that the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have had this season. Christopher Gibson, the 22-year-old native of Karkkila, Finland, who was the 2nd round pick (# 49 overall) of the Los Angeles Kings at the 2011 NHL Draft as well as the second-string netminder for the medal-less Finns at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships, has played well for the New York Islanders’ AHL farm club thus far (21 ga, 2.04 avg, .921 svpct) since being acquired in the September 17th trade that saw Austria Olympic winger Michael Grabner go to the Toronto Maple Leafs for five minor league players in return. Gibson has gotten the last three starts in a row for the Sound Tigers so it is quite possible that Bridgeport will turn to rookie shot-stopper Stephon Williams, the 22-year-old from Minnesota State University at Mankato who has appeared in 12 AHL games (2.51 avg, .910 svpct) to date.
Categories: Phantoms Hockey