As the Sound Tigers prepare for their fifth-season home opener, here’s the lightning primer on the franchise’s history and first four seasons…
2000: Bridgeport? Of the American Hockey League? Roy Boe. Todd Boe. Peter Ricciardi. Brian Kelley. Brian Keegan — who’s still here. Harbor Yard arena goes up; the Islanders come up.
2001: Beach Tigers? Nope, Sound Tigers. (“Bridgeport Sound penalty…”–numerous PA announcers) Gordie Clark, Steve Stirling, David Baseggio (Nighthawks reference). Black, blue and gold. Arena at Harbor Yard is, then isn’t on schedule. Lake Placid camp opens: Sept. 11, 2001. Nick Smith and Eric Godard. Milford training camp. Garrett and Vinny. Offices? What offices? But who cares: Ricky’s coming. Ricky shuts out Rochester (David Morisset). Four A’s, no C. Toss your hats for Justin Mapletoft… please, somebody toss your hat. Dusan Salficky. Lights out, part one. The Sound Tiers. Lights out, part two. They forget how to lose. Then they forget how to win. Fight of the century: Godard vs. Matt O’Dette.
2002: “That’s for Matt Libby!”–Rich Bocchini. Utah to St. John’s in a day. Roche’s gone. Up, down, up, down. 7-1 loss at Springfield; DiPietro def. Kochan; 316 PIMs; “I think it could be good for the team to have something like this”–Mapletoft. Nine straight wins later… Old Barn in Hershey, one time and one time only. Roche’s back (but Guite’s gone). A lineup to remember: Kolnik-Krog-Hunter; Roche-Podollan-Tuomainen; Torres-Mapletoft-Godard; Morisset-Higgins-Leahy. Schultz-Giroux; Mezei-Armstrong; Sutton-Ricci. DiPietro and Valiquette. Cummins on the clear-day list. Two games with Hartford for everything: OTL, W (Raffi Torres’ coming-of-age party). Clark: Why isn’t Stirling coach of the year? Beat Winnipeg in four. Tomi Pettinen and Konstantin Kalmikov. Hunter gets the call. Beat St. John’s in a sweep (Kolnik wins G3 in double OT). Hamilton, take a 3-1 lead, lose Game 5 there, go to OT in Game 6, then Louie DeBrusk (Louie DeBrusk?!?). Game 7. Shot after shot after shot. Rick DiPietro, closet folkie (wimoweh, wimoweh…). Torres shot blocked, kicks back to him, shot again, Torres (Mapletoft, Hunter), 18:33. Two empty-netters, and it’s Bridgeport-Chicago. Two days later… Bob Nardella. Lights out, part three, in overtime… Andreas Karlsson. Leahy and Tuomainen, it’s tied. John Anderson (Nighthawks reference). Steve Maltais. Rob Brown. Pasi Nurminen. Down 3-1, then down 3-0 in Game 5 (Attendance–15,132)… and then Hunter. And then Krog. And then Podollan. And then nothing until second-edition deadline… Yuri Butsayev, 22:05 OT. Happy summer. Newbies galore, front office and back office. Garrett and Jeff (Julio). Bill McLaughlin. Kolnik for Butenschon, and fog for franchise-opening night up in Binghamton, and no shots after the second period. Manlow, Chabada, Letang ‘n’ Nasreddine ‘n’ Smith, that Yalie named Hamilton, this kid Blaine Down, who’s not healthy yet. Daniel Tkaczuk and Mike Souza and Jeremy Adduono. Belak (clap-clap). DiPietro at Syracuse… JUST wide. His name’s Jim Sanca. Texas trip. New Year’s in Winnipeg, unsuccessful.
2003: Ricky gets pulled; Hartford comes back; and in the midst of lots of losing (with, usually, a short bench), they win at the end of OT in Philly. Recovery: The Mess in Manchester and Stirling’s gross misconduct. St. Germain cramps up. Scott Stirling, best signing ever. Stop scheduling Texas teams. Poor Morisset. Jody Robinson. Streakiest team ever. Like a merry-go-round. 8-0 in Hartford, and the top two lines sit for a period (Tomi Pettinen lucks out and plays forward). Team meetings. Adduono-Tkaczuk-Hamilton. Chabada-Manlow-Hunter. Papineau for Osgood, and nothing stops him from scoring. “Monarchs in five”–Fornabaio. Oops: Bridgeport in three. Two instant classics in Binghamton, both Sens wins. Fight night, 5-0. Big Game Hunter. But then 3-0, and then Ray Emery is unbeatable, and like that, it’s over, 2-1 (4-2). Happy summer. Then wake up one morning in June… Laviolette out, Stirling in. Greg Cronin. No pity pahties here. Taking ownership of an identity. (Organizational identity=trap.) Dieter and Dubie’s show. Colley, Collins, Bekar, Kraft, Kariya (not that one). Captain Alan. Tie-loss-loss-tie-loss. WIN, 1-0… then OT loss (video shows: crossbar. Get used to it.) Then… Win-win-win-tie. Then nine wins. Two ties. Five wins. Snow upon snow. Hamilton can’t be contained. Records in sight. You gotta get up pretty early in the morning to beat this team. WBS does: A chilling vision of things to come.
2004: A stick in the eye, and oh, does it still turn your stomach, too? They hang in. He’s back a month and a half later and scores 43. Injury bug, which hasn’t left. Start the recalls. Chasing Philly. Chasing history. Trap and transition. Nasreddine for Webb. Vince Macri, avoiding spring break. Rookie of the Year Dubielewicz. Hamilton OT winner (15th GWG, a record) buries WBS in third place. No radio. CV 04 1383. $725,823 plus interest and future damages. Scoreless tie; second place. Ten records, nine of them for defense. Jarrett hurt his back. Sean Bergenheim. The Pittsburgh Cavalry Regiment. “Two arms around Kostopoulos.”–Michel Therrien. OTW, OTW, OTL, W. Cult Hero Andy Chiodo. OTL. 5-0 L. Back home. Left for dead; Collins ties it. Giveaway, three-on-two, cross-ice, Konstantin Koltsov (Hussey) 11:44; it’s over. Happy summer, and hope you come back amidst rumor and innuendo. Who’s the money man? Who’s this Steismer guy? (Styslinger.) Backroom dealings. Dropped lawsuits (no, just refiling). Something’s happening. It’s a sale. Islanders, owned-and-operated. Locked out. More newbies. Aldridge (captain?), Seeley, Heisten, Koalska, Regier, Gervais, Caldwell, Jimmy Campbell and this kid Campoli that no one seems to know much about… They’re 3-0. Francois St. Laurent’s Friday Night Penalty Party. Penalties. Penalties. Penalties. 215:58 without a goal before ace sniper Graham Belak breaks it. They’re 4-6, and Seeley’s captain now. Now they’re 8-6. Now they’re 10-10. Now they’re 13-10. And now Justin Mapletoft is looking every bit the No. 1 center he needs to… wait, what’d he do to his wrist? Papineau hurt. Kraft hurt. Bergenheim hurt playing soccer. Forward Cole Jarrett. Nowak’s disallowed goal. Regier (Colley, Aldridge), 19:59.9 (ea). Carryover? Nope, and Jarrett hurt. Happy new year.
2005: Brendan “Sideshow Bob” Yarema. Aldridge done. Hartford leads 3-0, Down scores to start the team’s best comeback, and then… and then he breaks his neck: “Poor bastard.”–Greg Cronin, spoken every bit from the heart. Kraft dominates at Worcester, then breaks his ankle at Lowell. Ed Campbell arrives; Jim Campbell gets shipped out; Yarema leaves. Then Seeley gets shipped; Captain Eddie. Belak’s in the hospital. The kids! Guerriero. Tallari. Sestito. Nathan Gillies. Permanent PTO John Morlang. Cro to Northeastern? Kochan twists his neck driving home from the morning skate. Cro to Northeastern. Shootout win; happy summer. It’s (eventually) Baseggio. Pat Bingham. Lane Lambert. John Sullo and Paul Camelio. Jokerit Justin just before Yarmouth. All kinds of newbies: Brigley, Smith No. 3, Bouchard, Rourke, Marjamaki (all hurt by Game 3), Colliton, Aquino, Flache, Masse, Thompson, Madden, Tunik, Jarmuth. Bergenheim arrives in ill humor. Atrocities at Wilkes-Barre; rebounds against Norfolk (one of which should have counted and provided an extra point, maybe) and a hold-on at Binghamton.
And that’s where it stands.