SOUND TIGERS DEFEAT WORCESTER 4-1
Torres hat trick, Stirling saves and assist
lead Bridgeport to second consecutive victory
BRIDGEPORT, CT The American Hockey League's 2001-02 Regular Season
Champion and Eastern Conference Playoff Champion Bridgeport Sound
Tigers, top affiliate of the National Hockey League's New York
Islanders, defeated the Worcester IceCats at home Friday. Raffi
Torres, reassigned by the Islanders to Bridgeport along with Eric
Godard earlier today, led the Sound Tigers with three goals while Jeff
Hamilton and Brandon Smith had two points each, and Goaltender Scott
Stirling made 32 saves and notched an assist in his first start for
the Sound Tigers.
After a scoreless first period, Worcester took a 1-0 lead on a goal by
Eric Nickulas just 1:28 into the second period, his 12th goal of the
season, assisted by Jason Dawe. Nickulas was assigned to Worcester by
the NHL's St. Louis Blues earlier in the day.
Hamilton evened the score at 1-1 with his tenth goal of the year at
14:49 of the middle frame, just two seconds after a power play had
expired, assisted by Eric Manlow and Smith. Torres gave the Sound
Tigers a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal, his second of the game and
tenth of the year, on assists from Smith and Stirling at 17:56.
Torres put Bridgeport up 3-1 3:37 into the third period on assists
from Hamilton Martin Chabada. He then completed the hat trick, the
Sound Tigers' first since last March 29th, with his 12th goal of the
season, tapping a pass from Justin Mapletoft into an empty net for the
insurance goal at 19:36.
Bridgeport was 1 for 5 on the power play, 4 for 4 on the penalty kill
and had a 35-33 shots on goal advantage. Stirling finished the game
with 32 saves while Worcester's Cody Rudkowsky made 31 stops in a
losing effort. Torres was the first star of the game, Stirling the
second, and Hamilton the third.
The Sound Tigers will visit the Albany River Rats tomorrow at 7 p.m.
in their last game before the AHL All-Star break.
Worcester vs. Bridgeport
BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Raffi Torres notched his
first career hat trick to lead the Bridgeport Sound Tigers over
the Worcester IceCats, 4-1. Torres, the fifth overall pick in
the 2000 NHL Draft, snapped a 1-1 tie with 2:04 remaining in the
second, scored an insurance goal 3:37 into the third and
completed the natural hat trick into an empty net goal with 24
seconds left. Jeff Hamilton supplied a goal and an assist and
Brandon Smith added two assists for Bridgeport, which improved
to 17-1-4-1 when leading after two periods. Scott Stirling, son
of Sound Tigers head coach Steve Stirling, stopped 32 of 33
shots and recorded an assist to earn his second career AHL
victory. Eric Nickulas scored 88 seconds into second period to
give Worcester a short-lived 1-0 lead. Cody Rudkowsky
surrendered three goals on 34 shots in the loss for the IceCats,
who are winless in their last seven games (0-4-1-2).
Sound Tigers top IceCats
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
Raffi Torres wanted to work hard defensively. Scott Stirling just
worried about stopping the puck, not about his father, Steve, being
behind the bench. Both produced performances that led the Bridgeport
Sound Tigers to a 4-1 victory over the Worcester IceCats Friday night.
Four unanswered goals, the last three by Raffi Torres, made Stirling's
32 saves in his Bridgeport debut stand up before 4,684 at the Arena at
Harbor Yard, the Sound Tigers' second consecutive win.
The Sound Tigers scored once on their previously sputtering power play
and tallied twice more within seconds of advantages expiring. At the
other end, Bridgeport's penalty killers shut down the IceCats on two
extended power plays in the first two periods, giving Stirling the
support he needed to notch his second AHL win in as many starts.
Bridgeport has killed 21 straight penalties, three shy of their
"The PK was just outstanding," Steve Stirling said several times. "And
the power play came to life."
The only goal that actually came during power-play time was Torres'
first of the night, led by a Brandon Smith pass from the red line that
was just onside. Smith, in turn, had received a pass from Stirling.
The puck bounced on Torres, but he recovered, went around the
pokecheck of Cody Rudkowsky
a teammate of Bridgeport's other goalie dressed Friday, David St.
Germain, when the two play for Trenton of the ECHL
and backhanded the puck in. The goal snapped a season-long 0-for-20
streak for Bridgeport on the power play.
"I had it in my feet a little bit," said Torres, who came down from
the New York Islanders for the game and returned to Long Island
afterward. "I just caught up and kept skating."
Torres fought off a check to score his second goal early in the third
period. Justin Mapletoft set him up for an empty-net goal with 23.4
"Two of those goals were off guys giving me great passes," Torres said
about his first professional hat trick.
All Scott Stirling allowed was an Eric Nickulas goal at four-on-four
early in the second period, the ninth such goal Bridgeport has allowed
this season. He made 13 saves in the first period and made a couple of
tough saves on rebounds and through traffic.
The last time a player played in a game for his father was 1996-97,
when Sebastien Bordeleau played for Paulin Bordeleau's Fredericton
Canadiens. Sound Tigers defenseman Alan Letang was also a member of
The goalie's other AHL win this season came for Worcester on Nov. 3.
"One thing I used to my advantage, I think, was not trying to play
against Worcester, but just worrying about the puck," Scott Stirling said.
He got help from his penalty killers, who did not allow a shot in a
4:09 major power play over the end of the first period and the
beginning of the second, with Hamilton off for high sticking.
Mapletoft picked up another major in the second; Worcester got just
three shots on that 4:15 advantage, shortened by a Jason Dawe minor.
That penalty was the one that got the Sound Tigers going. Though they
didn't get scoring chances on the power play, they maintained
possession, working it around until, finally, Eric Manlow shot from
the right point. The puck kicked free to Hamilton, who turned around,
carried into the slot and wristed inside the left post to tie the game.
Sound Tigers' 3 STARS
RAFFI TORRES, BRIDGEPORT
Scored a hat trick in his Bridgeport return.
SCOTT STIRLING, BRIDGEPORT
Coach's kid assisted on one goal, stopped 32 shots.
JEFF HAMILTON, BRIDGEPORT
Nice second effort got the Sound Tigers' first goal.
Brandon Smith made a perfectly timed pass to Torres for the tying goal.
"We had a lot of possession, keeping it in the zone, chipping it. We
definitely needed a breakout (game) on the power play."
Bridgeport winger Jeff Hamilton
Tonight at Albany, 7 p.m.
Game Day - Sound Tigers
Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Albany River Rats
Pepsi Arena, Albany, N.Y.
ON THE AIR
WAVZ-AM 1300, WNLK-AM 1350, WSTC-AM 1400
RECORDS THROUGH THURSDAY
Bridgeport 21-17-9-2; Albany 15-23-6-5
Bridgeport leads 1-0-1.
The Sound Tigers won 3-1 in Albany Dec. 8.
ABOUT THE SOUND TIGERS
Bridgeport hosted Worcester Friday night. ... The Sound Tigers got LW
Raffi Torres and RW Eric Godard back from the New York Islanders
Friday morning. ... This is the lone road game in a string of six out
of seven at home. ... Four of the last five games in this season
series will be at Bridgeport. ... The Sound Tigers' only loss to
Albany was on the road last March 30. Both ties in the series also
came at Albany.
ABOUT THE RIVER RATS
Albany hosted Hershey Friday night. ... The Rats received RW Christian
Berglund and C Steve Guolla (conditioning) from the parent New Jersey
Devils Thursday. ... RW Steve Kariya was expected to make his Albany
debut Friday. He was traded from Vancouver to New Jersey earlier this
week. ... Ex-Bridgeport D Ray Giroux led league defensemen and the
team at 9-27-36 going into Friday. ... Former Tiger D Ken Sutton was
3-16-19, and RW Dave Roche was 12-6-18.
All-Star break. Bridgeport returns Feb. 7 vs. Hartford, 7:35 p.m.
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