Just another one of those “wow” nights, where your jaw drops with about five minutes left and stays that way until everyone finally leaves the ice…
<rant> Tonight might present the greatest arguments both for and against the shootout*.
“For” is obvious. The sucker is exciting. And tonight, PAT (point after tie) on the line, there was tension. There was a little buzz in the crowd — and jeez, that actually could be described as a “crowd” tonight — as the thing went on. And when Jeremy Colliton clinched it, the tension was released.
But come on. At the end of 65 minutes — hard-fought but sloppy, given-away but reclaimed — why should either team deserve a chance for a second point? Yes, Cody Rudkowsky played darn well. Frederic Cassivi wasn’t at his best, but he wasn’t horrible, either. Both teams did some good things. Both teams made mistakes. Hershey’s desperation got them a lead. Bridgeport’s desperation got them even. It’s a tie. Go home and be happy. Instead, these two teams come out with a total of three points. </rant>
Whew. Where was I? Oh yeah, five minutes to go…
Too many penalties. Dave Baseggio was not happy; another “I don’t understand the decisions” quote could have made the paper. Ryan Caldwell took two penalties early in the third and didn’t play again. Bruno Gervais had a great game but took a late penalty that turned into the tying goal. Then a rush turned into the go-ahead goal…
And then Bridgeport pulls Cody Rudkowsky, and then Dave Steckel takes a penalty, and it’s on….
Bridgeport won, I think, four draws in the offensive zone with the goaltender pulled. Lots of Wyatt Smith, though Jeremy Colliton might have been in on one or two, too. Frantic, frenetic, fantastic. Rob Collins’ deflection is stopped. Colin Forbes blocks Collins. Gervais gets it to Smith, glove save. Smith wins another draw, and Gervais’ shot gets blocked. Time’s disappearing. Mark Wotton blocks Colliton, Colliton gets it around to the right corner to Robert Nilsson, Nilsson fires it into the crease…
I didn’t expect it. I actually flinched when the Sound Tigers began celebrating with 1.0 seconds on the clock, because I didn’t expect it to go in.
According to Sean Bergenheim, it hit his stick, then hit Colliton’s stick. “The last thing I knew, it was under (Cassivi’s) pads,” Bergenheim said. “I just hit it as hard as I could, and I saw it go in. It was a really good feeling.”
The only goal later in regulation in a Sound Tigers game? That Steve Regier goal on Dec. 22, 2004, that went in with 0.1 seconds left. That also turned into a shootout win.
Rudkowsky let in an early goal from a bad angle — I’m not sure if he yet knows where it came from — after a weird carom off the end boards, shades of that Worcester game last season, a few games before the Regier-goal night. He was otherwise phenomenal. He disagreed a little when I said he didn’t have much of a chance on Joey Tenute’s goals, but making him go across left-to-right, high shots, they were tough.
Gervais scored his 13th goal, tops among AHL defensemen, as the Sound Tigers kept the puck in after a power play. Bergenheim dug the puck out of the corner, Colliton took a turnaround shot, and Nilsson chipped the rebound back to Gervais, who has five goals in the past six games.
Gervais set up Travis Brigley on a quick turnover-and-transition rush in the third to take the lead; Brigley slapped it high-glove side on Cassivi. But Bridgeport couldn’t hold the lead. But they earned a chance to win it in the shootout.
“This wasn’t our best game,” Bergenheim said, “but when we play the way we can play, we can beat any team.”
Rourke (A)-Karpa (A)
D: Wilde-Arsene (A)
*-Shootouts are also bad for me on deadline, because they’re an extra 5-10 minutes on top of an already long game. There, I said it.</rant>
**-Chris Bourque flew in from Vancouver to join the team after playing for the U.S. at the World Junior Championship. He drew a couple of penalties and shot a bunch of pucks wide from the point on the power play.
***-Coming back from a shoulder injury.