Weird that it’s over like that. It happens.
It does appear that Kevin Poulin’s 50 saves on 54 shots set a team record. Wade Dubielewicz made 45 on 48 shots in Game 6 of the 2006 playoffs. His 22 in the second aren’t a record, though; Dubielewicz made 26 on 27 in the second period that night. That game also ended on an overtime power-play goal, Ryan Stone’s.
Did up the stats today after the chat. Updated the all-time lists. Most notably, Rhett Rakhshani moved into 10th in all-time scoring, two points ahead of Jesse Joensuu. Jeremy Colliton caught Jeff Hamilton in one category: He has more shots than Hamilton, 685-653. (Jeff’s still got him by 12 goals.) The team’s games-played list: (1) Wotton 368, (2) Colliton 326, (3) Regier 290, (4) Haley 247, (5) Marcinko 243, (6) Mapletoft 240.
Considering that fully half of the franchise’s playoff games occurred in the first two seasons, this probably isn’t stunning, but… of the Sound Tigers’ top 18 players in playoff scoring, not one played for the team after 2006. The 19th was Trevor Smith, 2-5-7 in 10 playoff games over two springs. Those 18 players include eight who weren’t in the 2002 playoff run.
Bridgeport is 43,833 away from 2,000,000 fans all-time. (ahemyes, tickets distributedahem) Take out two games at Nassau and two in the Maritimes, and they’re 77,198 away from 2,000,000 at Harbor Yard. So there’s that to look forward to, sometime in the first half of next season.
Below the fold are selected quotes from some of the people I pestered for a few minutes on Monday. And then we’ll go to summertime blog mode. The playoffs (Sean Bergenheim, again!), the Worlds, we’ll keep an eye as best we can. They’ll make me work, no doubt, but I’ll be around. Hope you’ve enjoyed stuff here for seven years and in the paper for 11.
Thanks to the bosses. Thanks to the PR folks and the league and the organeyezation and the fellow writers all over this league. Thanks to players and staff and coaches and Leni, Matt and Kevin and everybody else over there for putting up with me.
And most of all, thank you for reading and being here.
“Still a little bit of shock. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. This is definitely not the way we wanted it to end.”
“The group of guys we had, the character, just the overall team chemistry was some of the best I’ve ever been a part of.”
“I think we had everybody on the same page, everyone with the same ultimate goal of winning the Calder Cup and working to get to the next level. We didn’t have anybody you could call a bad egg that brought the team down. Everybody got along for the most part.”
“Obviously we’re happy with the season but obviously disappointed with the playoffs. I personally thought we’d be in there for a month or two. I’m still in shock. It didn’t end the way we wanted.”
“I got put into a little more of a leadership role. … That was exciting for me, knowing we had such a young team. We had great coaches. They helped me a lot.”
“Every summer’s the same for most guys. Take a couple of weeks off and get back at it.”
“We had so much character in this room. The young guys coming in had a huge role to play with the team. We got together as the team a few times early in the year. We kind of got to know each other.”
“It was obviously not the ending we’d expected. We were a confident group going into the playoff series. To lose out like we did is frustrating. That’s going to stay for a while. After that, we’ll calm down this summer, relax, I think we’ve got to be pretty pleased with how (the season went).”
“When I started out, I was kind of feeling my way around,” Riley said. “I think I improved probably in the skating department, keeping up with the pace. Obviously it’s something I’ve got to continue to improve on, as a bigger forward, improve on my quickness, footspeed. It’ll help me a long way as a player.”
“I learned a lot. Penalty kill, defensive zone; finding a defensive role as a checker, as a penalty killer.”
“I think we’ve got to take the positives out of it. You look at December, when we were last in the division, and we came back all the way to first at the end of the season.”
“It was a little frustrating at times this year with injuries. I’ve just got to move on and continue to play hard, work hard.”
“To get a chance to go up, play in the NHL, it’s a lifelong dream. It was super-exciting.”
“The season didn’t end as we wanted. … You want it so much. That’s what’s going to motivate me all summer.”
“The team took a lot of steps from the beginning. We were playing well, obviously. Right now it’s tough to be happy because of the way it ended. We’ve got to give credit to their team. Their goalie came up big. We wanted to do better. We didn’t finish first in the division for nothing.”
“Overall, it was a really special team.”
On his late-season run: “It was a lot of fun. I really felt a part of helping the team win the division. I got to play with Rhett, who’s a really good friend of mine off the ice. It was just a matter of relaxing, and also getting an opportunity, a really good, consistent opportunity.”
On his sprained ankle: “It’s getting better slowly. It’s one of those injuries that takes time; you have to give it time. I feel great when I’m walking. I’m able to work out in the gym, running, jumping, doing squats. I don’t feel great on the ice yet. It feels weird. Walking around, I don’t feel it, and then I get on the ice. But we talked: It’s better that it happened now. Now … I have the whole summer to rest and (be ready) for the camps.”
“The first half of the season was a lot of up-and-down, a couple of good games, then a bad game. … It took time to get used to everything, the angles, how to play this type of hockey. The season half of the season … I felt I didn’t have to think about anything. I was satisfied with the second half of the season.”
“You’re never going to be 100 percent satisfied. I learned a lot on the ice, off the ice.”
How about the off-ice adjustment? “It’s pretty similar to Sweden. It’s a different culture; small things are different. Food, how things work. You’ve got to have a Social Security Card. The DMV, getting plates for your car. Small (differences). You don’t think about those things.”
“I’m excited for next year already. I’m looking forward to it already.”
“The heart the guys had on the team — I’ve probably said it a lot, but the December we had, it was definitely tough. All the guys here were part of it. It was one of the roughest times of my career. We rebounded. We came together. We became one big family. I think that showed as the season went on.”
“We all believed we could go far together.”
“I didn’t think, going into the season, I was going to have the year I did. I’m really happy with how I played. I achieved my dream of getting to the NHL. … Going into the summer, now I know how hard it is. It’s a big summer for me.”
He was running off to a doctor’s appointment to find out the extent of the damage from taking the clearing attempt in the left side of the mouth. “It’s not pretty.”
On the end: “It feels terrible. It’s a bitter feeling in our mouths. It’s a tough spot. You think, inevitably, about things you could’ve done better. It’s tough reassessing all that stuff. It’s tough realizing you’re not going to be together anymore. I’m going miss all the boys.”
“It’s been good to get a little view of what it’s going to be like if I play (here) next year. Coming in late in the season, it was like playoff hockey right away. Those two (playoff games) will help if I play (here), or even if I go back.”
Said he hasn’t been given an indication one way or the other. “I got good feedback, stuff like that. I hope to play here next year.”
“It was definitely a good experience. Obviously it wasn’t as long as we expected or hoped it to be, but I’ll take the positives out of it and continue to work hard.”
“Just to get bigger and stronger, that’s the big thing for me.”
Meetings in early May will begin to assess next year’s roster. “Right now, it’s too early.”
“I think it was how they played for each other. They paid attention to detail. They focused on the little things that made each of them successful and helped the team be successful. … There’s obviously a major disappointment with the result of the playoff series. You learn from that experience, put it in your memory bank and become a better hockey player, a better team.”
On the Thompson possibility: “It’s the day after the playoffs here. Everything will be considered to help our organization become better. … The staff did a great job here. The chemistry between players and staff was something special.”
“I’m disappointed with the season’s end. There’s no other way to say it. The team, you felt there was more there. It doesn’t feel right to be done. If we were beaten by a totally better team? But give them credit. They earned the opportunity to move on.”
“Just like the whole year, we’ve got to take positives out of this, use it as a step. … Yeah, we won a division title? It’s a great first step. We got to experience the playoffs. The players realize, they’ve got to elevate their level in the playoffs. We’ll learn from it, remember it during summer training. We’ll be a better team because of it.”
I asked if there was one player whose improvement stood out. “Look at our team. We had such a young team!* Our experience was limited to none in the Calder Cup playoffs. I’m like, one player? Look at Calvin de Haan. He elevated his whole game. Ty Wishart elevated his game. Frisch, Backman, DiBenedetto all elevated their game in the playoffs. Those guys rose to the challenge. Obviously their defense was pretty solid. For our young group to experience that, it’s only going to be better next year. Casey Cizikas (had a strong year). Calvin de Haan elevated, showed he can be the guy in key situations.”
“I think it was a great experience for me and Eric and Matt Bertani. The three of us learned to work together as the year went on. Early in the year we were feeling each other out — not Bogey and I as much; we had (played and worked together). … Eric took huge strides in the way he approached practices. He improved as a coach. Matt Bertani was solid at the beginning of the year and stayed solid. If you look at our staff, I like the guys I’m working with. We might have differering opinions, but that’s part of it. There are days we butt heads. That’s good. It keeps you sharp. They see the game slightly differently than I see the game. I thought both guys did a great job this year.”
On whether he could be a candidate to move up, basically, he said the year’s just over and next year is next year. (He is under contract.) “My focus has been on improving this team. … I love being a part of this organization. I hope I grow with it. Whether it’s next year or 10 years from now, I hope to still be a part of this organization.”
“I’m proud of the group. We worked hard but fell short at the end. We’ll take this and take another step next year.”
*-I don’t remember ever making sure to put an exclamation point in my notes. Seriously.