Come back with us to a day in the distant past, when Jason Krog was playing in Chicago in the Calder Cup Final, when gas was ridiculously expensive (a buck-fifty? Who’s paying this?), when St. John’s and Winnipeg were in the Eastern Conference, when we only had a vague idea of where Joliet was (but we’d discovered Giordano’s).
It’s Monday, June 3, 2002. We’ve spent Saturday downtown after watching Mark Prior and Roy Oswalt pitch at Wrigley, and we’ve spent Sunday at practice in Addison and then meeting up with old college buddy Avani Patel for dinner. And now the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are playing for their playoff lives.
Here all the way upstairs, a row behind us are Rich Bocchini and Andy Hutchison, calling the game on the Internet. John Anderson has urged all of Chicagoland to come to this game, “bring your dog if you want, because we’re going to win.” The dogs aren’t around, but
Rosemont Horizon Allstate Arena is just about full.
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Here’s your game notes. Well, actually, they’re my game notes. I’ve taken the liberty of scratching guys. (Who’s this “Cassivi”?)
Here’s the official lineup sheets.
And here’s my notes on line combinations, Bridgeport on the left in each period. I slacked on the Wolves for a while. Deal with it. You’ll notice that, eventually, I denote lines as A, B, or C. You’ll also note how little time it took, once Stirling reunited Kolnik-Krog-Hunter, for me to call it ‘A’ again. The little pluses and minuses on the right-hand side of each column denote goals; the pluses and minuses are Bridgeport-centric.
OK, so here we go. Here’s my notes off the game.
What, you can’t decipher ‘em? OK, they’re annotated in italics at key points.
6/3/02 – BPT@CHI, Calder Cup Finals G5 (C3-1)
Coming in 156:13 since even-strength goal
Good early sign? Some of the pyrotechnics (Roman-candlish thing) doesn’t work
2 negated icings 1st 3M – allows 8 shot through traffic sv.
That’s back-n-forth. That would change.
G1) C11 (10) 44, 28 5:30
Ah, 1st blood. Long wk b/h net, came out to DiP’s L, wrap good (Maltais didn’t know it’s in)
Maltais, his 10th of the playoffs, from Brown and Karlsson at 5:30. Get used to it.
1245 – 73 k up 2-on-1, 26 pass b/h 21, misses (Nurmy was across anyway)
When wasn’t Nurmy — Pasi Nurminen — there? Oh, as you’ll probably get, times in copy are usually time-remaining, while times in box-score stuff — goals and penalties — are time-elapsed.
G2) C11 (2-11) 28, 44 7:45 [TO, B]
Chipped ahead of Mezei (flat-footed?) 2-on-1 after 26+73 lost it in corner – No shot
Time out, Bridgeport. No goals in a looooong time (Judd Sirott complimented my Game 4 lead, when I said a glove was the only thing that got behind Nurminen) and down 2-0.
P) C16 int 12 8:44 BPP1
Nothing doing – then Army+8 together to r of net, DiP hit, slugs 8 in back of head…
P) B29 (16) rgh 8 10:03 CPP1
Nothing doing on any of it.
Interference, roughing. Oh – the first number after the foul is the fouled player. So the second one is DiPietro, served by Torres, for roughing Simon at 10:03, Chicago power play No. 1. A rare game this was: I caught all five fouled players.
After, DiP l shoulder sv 44 led 29 — @719, 16 sv wrap, 10 jams, no.
After TVTO, B12 out r corner, b/h sv.
I use “b/h” for both “backhand” (“-er”) and “behind.” It’s usually clear in context. Sometimes it isn’t, and that’s funny.
439 – Mezei drop pass to no one — in own zone!
Was it Bill Chadwick who said “the drop pass is the shortest route to the minors”? Or was that the behind-the-back pass? Anyway.
305 – Giroux work ax, slot sv thru traffic, Nardella clear
“ax”=”across.” Naturally, “xck”=”cross-checking.” But “bx”=”backcheck.” Don’t try ‘n’ understand me.
223 – Broken clear–>3-on-1 crt to 10 alone, stick sv DiP off scrum – Talk about discipline? At end, slug to bk of head.
P) B73 rgh 16 17:50 CPP2, 0/1
Don’t slug people in the back of the head. BTW, “crt”? No idea. It’s always funny when I can’t read my own writing.
Edit 2012: “out,” I’m pretty sure, not “crt.” Close.
C does much working, no great chances.
“Shots on goal in the first period: for Bridgeport, 7; for Chicago, 8.”
1805 – Karlsson gets loose puck in slot, stk sv
P) B73 hs 28 2:11 CPP3, 0/2X
G3) C11 (3-12) 18, 44 3:07 (pp)
Across from r corner to l post, bam.
It’s over, right?
G4) B21 (8) 32 5:08——-(1:56:13+25:08=181:21 w/o ESG)
One of those patented moves around Nardella – roofed it glove side – pumped up
Wrong. I can still see Hunter celebrating. Hunts was a great kid, great to deal with. I presume that hasn’t changed now that he’s rich ‘n’ famous.
1426 – Nice keep Kolnik – blast r side hit near post – just after, another post
Get used to it.
P) C18 sls 6 8:49 BPP2, 0/1X
G5) B28 (10) 2, 12 9:31 (pp)
THERE it is – l halfboards, little traffic, good wrist, short side
Ricci blast l pt sv thru late screen
8:30 – Kolnik force TO, 21 shot tip Krog high
G6) B73 (5) 3,29 18:05
Snapped it step over the blue, partial screen – high stick side – Nardella partial screen
It is still hard to believe they tied this game. On home ice, it would have been hard to believe they ever trailed; it was that kind of year. But after the Thursday and Friday they had had here, the three-goal comeback was hard to believe.
Last minute – much nasty hitting, c16 on 8 from behind, 24 on ? on boards, hold – nothing called.
11-6 –> 18-14
That’s a lot of people. Only once have more people been at a Sound Tigers game: Feb. 18, 2005, at Nassau in the first Lockout game.
(CHI: 1) Maltais 2) GWG (or Brown) 3) Hunter. BPT: 1) GWG 2) Maltais 3) Hunter (or 12? 6? 33?))
Three-stars ideas. I stuck with it, as it turned out.
Simon tip 24 seconds in sv – scrum
1846 – Karlsson brks thru, b/h sv – other way, 2-on-1 –>2, 33 wrister sv off r post
Leahy, post: Get used to it.
1622 – Sutton ties up 19, prevents shot – other way, 33 stopped from RW boards
1455 – Giroux up, on rush, Hunter to 2 sv, Hunter rbd sv, Krog rbd sv
1130 – B TO @blue – 28 sv
1031 – Mackenzie gives Mezei little poke after whistle – after he was knocked down earlier
*****6:58 – led by nifty b/h Krog, Hunter all alone in slot, goes off xbar – Led, other way, Snyder @637, wrister sv, rbd sv, folo 10 sv
May he rest in peace.
445 – Sutton trp 18, no call, drv to net
406 – Torres l side shoots long, gloved
After scramble to DiP l, TO, C, 0:32.4 – 006, Hunter sv, juggled
Most likely, the gap in line combinations late in regulation was either from writing B-copy for the gamer, or from sending slot man Marc Coppola my punk story on John Anderson. It ran for first edition, and you can read it again here.
1721 – Kolnik chip up 32 join rush, 28 hi slot bkd to seats
1602 – Brown outta r corner, thru crease by 28 – Continues press – 28 stopped ctr bh net 44 – Then Brown open 1533, net off, just before shot. DiP fall backward
829 – Tapper brks free, gets loose puck off Vigier drop – shot wide low stick
***715 – Leahy R post on degenerate 3-on-2 from Tuomainen – Big ding, c. 2′ up
I know more than one person who believed before the game and still believe now that, had the Sound Tigers won this game, they would have won the Cup. For a split-second as this play developed, I could see it. Bad luck.
644 – Podollan around D, wide L
537 – 3-on-2, Hunter wide
326 – End tuff shift, C6 down in corner to L of Nurmy – looked out for a second, but gets up slowly – looked like Torres went to hit him, but replay cuts off – He stays in.
Dallas Eakins=former Beast of New Haven. The day he (somewhat surprisingly) was sent to New Haven, Jerry Higgins and I waited to talk to him. He never looked up at us as he came out of the back room and unpacked his bag, and he never looked up at us as he went back into the back. Jerry and I kept our distance, ’cause as Jerry said, sometimes you can tell when they don’t wanna talk. Needless to say, I didn’t ask Eakins for any New Haven memories.
311 – Giroux around net, out Nurmy’s R, ctr Kolnik, swept, sv.
Outshooting Chicago three periods in a row. They would not put another shot on.
doesn’t appear comes out just before draw
G7) C10 (7) 16, 19 2:05
Quick push ahead up L – snapper L circle
Bang. Pasi Nurminen was MVP. Steve Maltais took possession of the Calder Cup. And I tacked five grafs onto the top of my story and shipped it, ’cause final-edition deadline was about a minute away:
ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Bridgeport Sound Tigers came inches away from keeping their season alive several times Monday night, but the Chicago Wolves just proved too strong in the end.
Yuri Butsayev’s wrister from the left circle at 2:05 of the second overtime gave the Wolves a 4-3 win over the Sound Tigers and the Calder Cup.
The two-time former IHL champions won the title in their first AHL season, wrapping up the best-of-7 series in five games before 15,132 fans, the second-most ever to see a Calder Cup playoff game.
Chicago won its ninth straight home game and improved to 12-2 at home in the playoffs.
Goalie Pasi Nurminen made 35 saves and was named the Jack Butterfield Trophy winner as Finals MVP.
I’ll spare you the B-copy.
I did a few quick interviews — Stirling, Hunter, Roche — for a follow-up. I drove Vinny Ferraiuolo, Garrett Timms, Rich and Andy back down the street to the hotel. And then I packed, because I was dumb and hadn’t done so in the afternoon. (A week in a hotel, and you build up a lot of stuff in various places.) Had an early wake-up call, too, to chug up to Midway (don’t ask) for a 9:30 flight back to La Guardia.
And just like that, the first year was over.
Within weeks, Gordie Clark was gone. The normal summer free-agency wheel spun. Krog was off to Anaheim. Several players went to Europe. Three went to Jersey. Dave Morriset went back to Florida’s system and never caught an injury break again. About the only welcome-back surprise was Eric Godard, traded from Florida.
Things were very different. If you count Konstantin Kalmikov, who was a Black Ace during the Final, only eight of those 22 Spring 2002 Sound Tigers were on the opening-night roster in October — and before that game, Juraj Kolnik got traded for Sven Butenschon. And though that team found a way to overachieve a bit — throwing in two of the most amazing, exciting, intense games I’ve ever seen, the first two playoff games at Binghamton — it was clear that the 2001-02 Sound Tigers were likely to be a rare powerhouse.
And they came up at least a post short.