Welcome to the house of pain

(Update: Went up early to talk to Ben Guite for the next weekly. Picked a good day, I guess: Guite got the call last night. Pretty awesome.)

Shall we run through the litany? Aw, what the heck, I’ve got 20 minutes till I have to call for questions.

Friday, Oct. 26, 2001: Bridgeport 2, Providence 2. An innocuous start to the series. Y’know, except for Bridgeport’s blown 2-0 lead. “We let the game get away from us,” defenseman Chris Armstrong said.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002: Providence 3, Bridgeport 2 (OT). Jonathan Girard, before the accident that unfortunately all but ended his playing career, scores the game-winner. I’m still not sure he beat the buzzer, but referee Ron Morgan was. Girard scores, officially, at 4:59 of overtime. “We ruined a good game in (the last) 24 seconds. That’s what I’m disappointed about,” Bridgeport coach Steve Stirling said. “You can’t get casual. You can’t lose focus. Twenty-four seconds cost us a (Providence) point.”

Friday, Feb. 14, 2003: Providence 3, Bridgeport 2. Overlapping high-sticking majors to Ray Schultz and Alain Nasreddine set up Providence’s first goal on the 1:54 two-man advantage. “The sticks were up high by accident,” Bridgeport defenseman and alternate captain Brandon Smith said, “but (if you’re referee Harry Dumas) you’ve got to call it if there’s blood drawn.” A high-sticking minor sets up the game-winner.

Sunday, March 23, 2003: Providence 3, Bridgeport 2. This is where I really started to think something weird was happening. Two goals from behind the goal line give the Bruins the lead; the first comes after Stephen Valiquette gets his stick caught in the Zamboni door and fans on a clear. Just 37 seconds later, a Bruin banks the puck in off him. And the winner comes after a dump-in hits that door and caroms into the crease for a tap-in. Valiquette was as agitated as I’ve ever seen the big guy. “I’m (ticked) off at the people who made this arena,” Valiquette (said). In the closing seconds, Trent Hunter’s skate blade breaks, keeping him off the ice as the Sound Tigers, on a power play, press for the tie.

Saturday, Nov. 8, 2003: Bridgeport 1, Providence 1. The most normal of the nine. Hannu Toivonen makes 35 saves, and only the union of Eric Manlow with Mattias Weinhandl and Jeff Hamilton creates a goal. “The kid (Toivonen) played a great game,” said … Manlow … . “We need to drive to the net more, even thought we’re not a big team.” He’d mention that once or twice more.

Friday, Jan. 16, 2004: Providence 3, Bridgeport 2 (OT). Actually, these two games this season were relatively normal. The weirdest thing about this one, besides Wade Dubielewicz stopping Martin Samuelsson on a penalty shot with 1.4 seconds left in the second period, was Ivan Huml’s winner. “It’s a shame, though,” Bridgeport coach Greg Cronin said. “An easy wrist shot beats us, that bothered me. I think Dubie got bounced around a little bit.”

Friday, Jan. 14, 2005: Providence 4, Bridgeport 0. Quote of the year here maybe: “Right now, we’re kind of a fragile team,” said defenseman Bruno Gervais, whose giveaway helped set up the short-hander. Heck, gotta go with a second quote: “The first two goals were purely a reflection of puck-staring, defensively,” Bridgeport coach Greg Cronin said, “which is a cardinal sin in the defensive zone, to stare at the puck. What do you say? You know that since you’re kids.” Just ugly. But they did pick up future captain Ed Campbell on the way home.

Friday, Jan. 28, 2005: Providence 7, Bridgeport 5. The Sound Tigers trailed three times, took a 5-4 lead, gave up their fourth power-play goal of the game, went 3-for-3 on their own power play, fell behind 6-5 after another weird carom off the boards to the front of the net, then put a back pass into their own empty net to finish it off. For instance, I wrote, we’d tell you who the second Bridgeport power-play unit was, but we never saw it. The first unit clicked in 10, 27 and 66 seconds on Bridgeport’s first three power plays.

And now there’s this one.

Friday, Jan. 27, 2006: Providence 4, Bridgeport 1. Just 40 seconds into the game, all 10 starters still on, Jeremy Reich winds up for a slap shot from the neutral zone. It kicks off the ice and hops over Frederic Cloutier’s stick into the net. This comes after Joel Bouchard is recalled, Dave Karpa goes home, and Travis Brigley gets “traded,” in essence, to Springfield for Harlan Pratt. A goalpost or two, a blown coverage on the penalty kill, a gorgeous move on a two-on-two rush that turns into an easy short-hander, and then a banked-in, 175-foot short-handed empty-netter off a blocked shot…

Bridgeport really needs to avoid this place somehow.

If you’re looking for bright spots, Gervais’ power-play goal midway through the third averted what would have been Bridgeport’s first time shut out since last March 30. This was Game 47, and it’s not only the deepest into the season Bridgeport has gone without being shut out, it’s the longest streak of consecutive games without being shut out in the team’s five seasons. (If you want to go back to last season, add another 10 games.)

No luck reaching the Karpa camp, so I’m not sure if he just didn’t like the offer, or if something else was at play. Newport Beach versus Connecticut in February? I might have to think about it, too.

No luck, either, reaching Brigley, who apparently got word not long before they bused up here. Pratt supposedly should join the team for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia.

Almost half-heartedly, I asked a couple of people about whether losing three veteran voices in 36 hours had an effect on this game, which was kind of flat for Bridgeport. I didn’t want to make it sound like I was asking for an excuse, even though I guess that’s what it would be. But anyway. I asked Cole Jarrett what losing them would mean long-term: “It can go either way. You can put a positive spin on it, that guys step up like myself, Bruno Gervais, Matt Koalska, step up and be more vocal leaders in the room. Those three guys were, especially Karpa and Brigley. They were almost calming forces. No matter how bad things got, they kept things positive.”

Jarrett also mentioned how the team didn’t do so well earlier in the season when it lost a bunch of guys. They’ll need to be better this time.

F: Bergenheim-Colliton-Nilsson
Collins-Smith (A)-Hamilton (A)
D: Jarrett-Gervais
Rourke (A)-Macri

F: Reich (A)-Guite (A)-MacDonald
D: Stuart-Leach (C)
Jon. Sigalet-Curry

Note the change in lettering from Karpa to Hamilton.

Thought 1: Rule 26(d) reads: “When ONE minor penalty is assessed to ONE player of EACH Team at the same stoppage in play, these penalties will be served without substitution provided there are no other penalties in effect and visible on the penalty clocks. Both Teams will therefore play four skaters against four skaters for the duration of the minor penalties. …

“When multiple penalties are assessed to both teams, equal numbers of minor and major penalties shall be eliminated using the coincident penalty rule and any differential in time penalties shall be served in the normal manner and displayed on the penalty time clock accordingly. If there is no differential in time penalties, all players will still serve their allotted penalty time, but will not be released until the first stoppage of play following the expiration of their respective penalties.”

(Capitalization is in the original; ellipsis omits a note about players who also incur a misconduct)

Thought 2: The following penalties took place at 10:44 of the second period tonight: Flache, Bpt, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 10:44; Koalska, Bpt (high-sticking), 10:44; Stuart, Pro, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 10:44; Leach, Pro (roughing), 10:44.

Thought 3: What’s Gord Dwyer doing putting them four-on-four off these penalties?

Thought 4: Wait, didn’t this happen back during Francois St. Laurent’s Friday Night Penalty Party, Oct. 22, 2004, too, eventually leading to a hilarious three-on-three? (Second period. You’ll know it when you see it.)


Bill McLaughlin pointed out Hershey’s comeback from 4-1 down in the second to beat Norfolk 7-4 on the road. A favor for Bridgeport, which still owes four games in hand to the Admirals.

Some team or other from UConn, which apparently plays the Friars here Saturday afternoon, evidently pulled in about the same time as the Sound Tigers this afternoon. Things that won’t look right for a while: banners reading “Marquette,” “Cincinnati,” “DePaul,” “Louisville” and “USF” in a Big East building. (Heck, “Rutgers,” “Notre Dame,” “West Virginia,” they still look funny after a decade.)

Got a few laughs out of this story from Lindsay Kramer up in Syracuse.

Stained on the visitor’s dressing room wall just inside the door here: a near-perfect Phoenecian letter aleph. If there’s greater meaning there, I don’t know.

Michael Fornabaio