For two periods, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were playing an evenly matched contest with the Connecticut Whale in the first game of the AHL Eastern Conference Quarter Finals. Not only was there no score, but the shots were just about even, and the goaltenders were both to the task.
Then came the third.
With a minute into the final period, the Whale took advantage of a slight opening in the armor of the Bridgeport defense, and Kelly Tessier gets through and put the puck past Kevin Poulin to open the scoring.
The Sound Tigers got chances at the net, but second string Whale goaltender Cam Talbot stood his ground, and denied the equalizers.
At the midpoint of the third, the Sound Tiger defense were having a tough time clearing the puck out of their zone, then enter Jordan Owens, who got a backhand shot by Poulin, to get the lead for the visitors to two.
Ryan Bourque would put another goal into an uncovered left side of the net, to put the game out of reach.
Despite the fact that the Sound Tigers were down by three, they did not allow that to stop them from attempting a comeback. Coach Brent Thompson would pull his goalie with over three minutes remaining in the contest, and even taking a time out in the Hartford zone, to set up a play.
Bridgeport ended up with 42 shots on net. Justin DiBenedetto had 8 of those shots, David Ullstrom had six and Casey Cisikas taking five. All of their lines were getting opportunities on the net. The North East Division champions were just unable to get any of those past Talbot.
“You look at the big picture, we’re down 1-0 in a best-of-5 game series,” Bridgeport coach Thompson said to the media after the game. “We are back at it again on Saturday, and we’ve got to respond quickly.”
Bridgeport actually did have a chance to open the game on top side of the scoresheet in the second period. With a few Sound Tiger players in the crease, the puck went across the goal line, giving the home squad the early lead. However, referee Mark Lemelin immediately waved the goal off, due to the fact that he indeed lost sight of the puck, and was in the process of blowing the play dead as the puck crossed the line. With that, the score went back to a scoreless draw. Less than a half hour later, the Whale took the game over.
Now, just 48 hours from when game 1 began – the teams are back at it again. Bridgeport will need to take some chances, and make amends with the fans. To the team, it is just a matter of making things happen.
This evenly matched series should be of the same recipe. Seize your chances and be the winner.
Bridgeport should be hoping to even the score.
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