It’s Hershey in five, which seemed a common pick beforehand but didn’t seem so bright after two games. It’s as if it got to where it should have, but in some oddball path that makes you wonder just what happened here.
Bridgeport probably should have won Game 1, could have won Game 2, and the Sound Tigers head home with a chance to shock the league anyway, but they blow up in the second period of Game 3, then come back against a non-desperate team to win Game 4, and then…
What was this?
“They came out pretty hard,” Dustin Kohn said. “They got a couple of goals early, a couple of bounces on the first one, another after that. It’s tough to play in their building.”
But even after giving up the first eight shots — and almost comically failing to register their first on a short-handed two-on-one, with Greg Mauldin fanning on Jeremy Reich’s pass — they recover and set up Dylan Reese for a short-hander. It’s 2-1. Shots are 8-1, but it’s 2-1.
And two minutes later, they’ve reverted and are behind 3-1.
And then shots are 23-1 before you know it.
“They seemed loose before the game, ready to go,” Jack Capuano said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t get anything going.”
So they’re left to pack up (break-up interviews tomorrow, not wasting any time — hey, the brass flew in tonight, they’re probably home and in bed already) and look back not only on this kooky playoff series, a closer-than-it-looked 4-1 series that finished with the most-dominant 4-1 game ever, but on an up-and-down season that was saved with one long, late upstretch.
“Like I told them, a lot of guys came a long way,” Capuano said. “No one counted us in the playoffs a month, a month and a half ago. We battled hard.”
The Sound Tigers last won a playoff series in 2003. Since then, 20 of the 29 teams in the league have won one. If you include the old two-game preliminary round, add Norfolk and make it 21. If you consider Lowell one contiguous franchise, Lock Monsters-to-Devils (which the league does not), make it 22. Springfield, Abbotsford, Lake Erie, Texas, Peoria and San Antonio are the six others who have not won a playoff series since 2003, though obviously four of those got a later start (and two of them are alive right now.)
Four others that are now defunct have also won one: Iowa, Cincinnati, the Worcester IceCats and, in a preliminary round, the Cleveland Barons.
So, sadly, got to stick with what I wrote last year at this time. How to win a playoff series again? Maybe get the heck out of this division.
And, you know, stay the heck out of this division.
On the bright side, Koskinen stopped the last 18. On the other hand, his teammates only took six shots in that stretch.
Even with the one more win that would have avoided Hershey, of course, it wouldn’t have been easy. Worcester, which gave Bridgeport fits all year, finished off Lowell tonight in five. (Of course, Koskinen beat the Sharks. Maybe… Nah, who knows.)
Here are the division finals schedules, if you’re still up for road trips. The quick end to the two East Division series means Albany can keep all its home games at the Times Union Center; Game 6 would be a day before the circus arrives.
Our buddy Tom Liodice pushes Frans Nielsen for Lady Byng consideration. Works for us. We remember the time Nielsen had 10 PIM in 56 games for Bridgeport, then took three minors in six games at the Worlds…
Odessa lost Game 7. Utah plays Friday. We’ll poke around and see if anyone might join the Grizzlies from here to try to bring that team back from 3-0 down.
That’s former Amity hockey star Brian Kownacki making this flying leap. (Wow, two Fordham references in one day.)