So there was this fan up in the upper deck, right over us in the press box. Moments after Alec Martinez’s shot from the right-circle faceoff dot made it past Dwight King’s screen and eluded Kevin Poulin, he started bellowing… something. It took me a few tries to figure it out. It sounded like “heavy.” But he wasn’t shouting it at me, so…
Oh. “Kevy.” OK.
This went on for a few minutes, in 10-second-or-so bursts at a time. It did the Sideshow Bob Rake Scene thing, where at first you wondered what was going on, then it was funny, then it got annoying, and then it got giddily funny again.
But by that time he was getting a little more creative. “Kevy! You had a two-goal lead, Kevy! This is on your shoulders, Kevy! You had a gift, Kevy, and you blew it!”
(Some of the facts of those statements may be in dispute, but this is heckling, and facts should never get in the way of good psychology. Moving on.)
“Kevy! You’re gonna choke it away in overtime, Kevy, I know it!”
There was one problem with his foresight.
It only got to Kevin Poulin once more after that perfectly screened shot, in fact. And before that, Rob Schremp and Rob Hisey and Dustin Kohn and Travis Hamonic had teamed up to put on one more show with the puck, in the Manchester zone.
(“I was on the receiving end,” game-winner Hamonic said. “Those guys made great plays.” Hisey and Schremp with open ice should have been illegal. But we digress.)
Poulin had to make big saves from Moment 1 through the end of the third. First shift: Kolomatis’ point shot knuckles toward the net, hits Dustin Kohn… “The puck was coming a little like this,” Poulin said, wobbling his hand. “It hit Kohner’s stick, my shoulder — it started like that, and it kept going.”
There were turnovers, and there were defensemen caught a little flat-footed, but when that happened, Poulin made saves in his first game in two weeks.
“We have three goalies,” Poulin said. “One game you’re in the stands, one game you back up, one game you play: It’s the first time I’ve experienced that in my career. You have to deal with it. When you play, you play your best.”
That, he did. And while both teams had chances, Manchester’s seemed to be the kind that could have been devastating, odd-man rushes that could have tied the game, and in the second period, who knows where it goes from there? But Poulin stopped them.
Meanwhile, Bridgeport was generating chances, too. Jeff Zatkoff made some saves, definitely looked better than last week, though the best save of the night was centerman John Zeiler’s on Rhett Rakhshani’s open-net wraparound. They played a hard-nosed road game.
“With our heart, and determination … I told them, I didn’t worry about the outcome of that game,” Capuano said. “If we can play like that and establish our identity, we’re gonna win, for sure.”
They did. This sure doesn’t look like the kind of year where it’s going to be easy. But they did.
The things Schremp was doing with the puck were ridiculous. He said he felt no ill effects at all, got the game-timing back quickly and is flying back to New York in the morning.
“I felt great,” he said. “It was a good stint. It was exactly what I was looking for. (That was) just conditioning. I haven’t played a game in four weeks.”
The DiBenedetto-Ullstrom-Joensuu line scored one goal and could have had a few more. In the third, right after a Bridgeport power play, they went in order: DiBenedetto hit a post, Ullstrom shot wide from in tight, Zatkoff made a pad save on Joensuu.
Matt Martin scored his first in the NHL. The Isles lost, though.
Prescout. Though the teams play again tomorrow in Springy. (If you’ve somehow missed it, Bridgeport is off tomorrow. Game postponed. Politics. No, actual politics.)
The team is, really, off tomorrow. Late practice Sunday.