The 2021 season came to an end last week for the New York Islanders AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. This season was also the final season that the team would go by that name, after they announced the clubs plans to rename the team the “Bridgeport Islanders.”
Still the Sound Tigers for the 2020-2021 season, they ended up finishing the season with 24 games played, going 8-14-2-0. Only Bridgeport’s division rival, the Hartford Wolf Pack, played as few as 24 games. A handful of other teams played 25 but the rest of the AHL ranged from 26 to 41 games played.
In their 24 games, the Sound Tigers only played Hartford and the Providence Bruins. Bridgeport struggled throughout the season, scoring an AHL low 59 goals, albeit they were tied for the fewest games played. The Belleville Senators had the second fewest goals in the AHL, finishing with 77, 18 more goals in five more games.
Cole Bardreau and Samuel Bolduc were the leading goal scorers for Bridgeport, finishing with 16 and 14 points.
Jakub Skarek received the lions share of the starts in goal, going 3-8-1-0 in his 12 starts. He finished with a 3.50 goals against average and an .887 save percentage. Skarek’s best start of the season came April 20, at home against Providence. He allowed only one goal on 24 shots. The start was a strong rebound after he gave up five goals in his last start against Hartford. It was also the one of two times he only allowed one goal throughout the 2021 season.
Cole Bardreau with high praise for goalie Jakub Skarek 🥅🎥 pic.twitter.com/m321E0Me0Y— Bridgeport Sound Tigers (@thesoundtigers) April 27, 2021
Even though this season didn’t bring a ton of success for Bridgeport, there were a lot of positives that came from this season, staring with the fact that they played to begin with. The NHL season never truly felt like it was in doubt, that wasn’t the same case for the AHL, hence the reason the Sound Tigers only played two opponents through 24 games.
When the season started in February, it had been almost 11 months since a lot of these players had played in competitive hockey games. Getting this season in for a developmental league like the AHL was crucial and getting these Islanders prospects 24 games was very important for their future, most importantly in Bolduc’s case.
For his first pro-season on an underachieving team, Bolduc stepped up and gives the Islanders another piece to work with in the next few years with in their defensive corps. It was his first professional season and he was arguably the best player night-in and night-out for the Sound Tigers. The defensemen ended up with six goals — one on the power play and one game-winning goal — and eight assists to go with a plus-5 rating and ten penalty minutes.
“He will be able to defend at the NHL level with his size and ability to skate,” Bridgeport’s head coach Brent Thompson said last week. “The offensive production definitely surprised me, getting his shot to the net. For that kind of production in a first year with a big man that has the ability to be a shutdown defenseman, it’s good to see. And he took steps to improve.
Although everyone wants their teams to win, it isn’t crucial to the Islanders for Bridgeport to win games. With that said, the Isles do want to see improvement/development from their players and usually improvements will lead to more positive results on the ice.
The future for Bridgeport will be as the Islanders, a move that ties the AHL club to the NHL team. Turnover is always expected for an AHL franchise but Bridgeport has a group of players that are there or coming in next season that will be sure to catch you eyes as you look towards the future on Long Island.
Follow Ben on Twitter at @BenMandell55