BRIDGEPORT, CT . . . In their first year of existence, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have captured the Richard F. Canning Trophy as the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference champions for 2001-02. Bridgeport won their conference final series, four games to three, with a 3-0 victory over Hamilton at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport on Wednesday evening. The Sound Tigers will face the Chicago Wolves in the Calder Cup 2002 Finals, beginning Friday night in Bridgeport.
Raffi Torres, the fifth overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, broke a scoreless tie with just 1:27 remaining in regulation to lift the Sound Tigers to the Game 7 victory. Rick DiPietro, the first overall pick in 2000, made 14 saves in posting the fifth Game 7 shutout in AHL history, and Jason Podollan and Juraj Kolnik added empty-net insurance tallies in the final minute.
Bridgeport, the top affiliate of the New York Islanders, finished its inaugural season with a record of 43-25-8-4, good for 98 points and the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the league’s overall points champion. The Sound Tigers also claimed the F.G. (Teddy) Oke Trophy as the champions of the East Division. Bridgeport defeated Manitoba (3-1), St. John’s (4-0) and Hamilton (4-3) to reach the Calder Cup 2002 Finals.
The league’s Eastern Conference championship trophy, which was instituted in 1990, honors former league president Richard F. Canning, who served the AHL for over 50 years and was the author of the league’s constitution, by-laws and regulations. Previous winners of the Richard F. Canning Trophy include the Springfield Indians (1990, ’91, ’93), Adirondack Red Wings (1992), Portland Pirates (1994, ’96), Albany River Rats (1995), Hamilton Bulldogs (1997), Saint John Flames (1998, 2001), Providence Bruins (1999) and Hartford Wolf Pack (2000).
Now completing its 66th season, the AHL serves as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 75 percent of all players to compete in the NHL this season have been AHL graduates, and nearly 350 players have taken the ice in both leagues in 2001-02.
Calder Cup 2002 Finals Schedule
Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. Chicago Wolves
Game 1 – Fri., 5/24 – Chicago at Bridgeport, 7:35 ET
Game 2 – Sat., 5/25 – Chicago at Bridgeport, 7:05 ET
Game 3 – Thu., 5/30 – Bridgeport at Chicago, 7:00 CT
Game 4 – Fri., 5/31 – Bridgeport at Chicago, 7:30 CT
*Game 5 – Mon., 6/3 – Bridgeport at Chicago, 7:00 CT
*Game 6 – Thu., 6/6 – Chicago at Bridgeport, 7:05 ET
*Game 7 – Fri., 6/7 – Chicago at Bridgeport, 7:35 ET