When I think back on Friday, Feb. 1, 2002, I think of one thing. And yes, it’s Dieter Kochan’s forgetting that Rick DiPietro is a lefty and walking into one.
But if there’s something else… It’s Ken Sutton, of all people, getting tossed (and suspended) for fighting before a faceoff. No, actually, it’s Justin Mapletoft, downstairs, in a hallway that probably still exists in this renovated barn in some form or another (it’s where the refs come from now, I believe), saying how a game like that 183-penalty-minute, 316-for-the-two-teams debacle could bring a team together.
Callow as I was, I tried not to chuckle.
And then Bridgeport won nine in a row.
Is that in this team? It’s not in many teams. (Though it’s easier now than it was 11 years ago -cough-shootouts-cough-). Could something like the chaos of tonight’s third period, a total of 147 penalty minutes (which may be missing a Wishart rough, if the announcements were correct at the time) bring a team together?
“Guys were sticking up for one another,” Nathan McIver said. “(Branislav) Mezei supported (Raffi) Torres, Sutts came in to support Mapletoft.” …
No, wait; that’s obviously Steve Stirling, 2/1/02. McIver: “I think it could be good for the team to have something like this. We saw a lot of guys stand up for one another.” …
No, actually, that’s the Mapletoft Quote, 2/1/02. Hang tight. Nate, could this bring you guys together?
“Hopefully it does,” said McIver, tossed in the third in the last major brawl for going after Jonathan Audy-Marchessault after the Falcons had gotten after Nino Niederreiter and Brandon DeFazio earlier.
“Everyone stuck up for each other. Hopefully this brings us closer together.”
It was prompted this time, I should say, wondering if he’d agree with the idea that it could. And maybe it does.
It seemed to stem from the Gallant-Jake Hansen fight (which Gallant received an extra minor for, then went off in discomfort, perhaps an arm). Nino Niederreiter served the extra minor and, coming out of the box, was called offside on a two-on-one with Sean Backman. Off the draw, Dalton Smith went after him. Mike Halmo tried to jump in between. And all hell broke loose. When Halmo and Smith broke free throwing at each other, other players paired off. Dalton Prout came out of the pile with Niederreiter, who covered himself up as Prout waited, guns cocked.
The Sound Tigers didn’t score on the four-minute power play, actually gave up a shortie to Andrew Joudrey on a penalty shot after Aaron Ness tripped him up.
And then came Round 2. Prout took a run at Brandon DeFazio into the end boards. Jordan Hill stepped up and went at Prout, picking up an instigator. Scott Campbell, who had two penalty minutes in his first 19 2/3 Bridgeport games, got himself 17 right there for instigating a secondary altercation with Will Weber. (Interestingly, he wasn’t removed from the box until the next mess.)
And then McIver slugged away at Audy-Marchessault; Ryan Craig jumped in, Blair Riley didn’t find a partner a second time, and there was pretty much nobody left anywhere.
“I don’t know what started it,” Scott Pellerin said. “Obviously it was something they planned. They instigated the whole thing. We responded. It goes to show the character they have.”
It masks, or at least overshadows, the actual game, when Bridgeport had some chances early and, on the Falcons’ breakout, gave up a goal through a screen. “We’ve got to do a better job blocking shots,” McIver said. Springfield in the second got one off a skate (the replay we saw, to me at least, didn’t show a distinct Cody Bass kicking motion, though Graham Skilliter gave it a look) and another through a screen at least, and that was more or less it. “They outworked us,” Pellerin said. “They outexecuted us.” It’s getting lateish, 26 games left, 12th in the conference and six points out of playoff position. (They were ninth in the conference — but essentially percentage points behind, both for that last spot and for the division title — after 2/1/02, with 32 games left.) They’ve struggled to keep the goals-against down to begin with, and now the goaltending situation is in flux.
If they’ve got a nine-game winning streak in them, now would help. But they don’t happen often.
Pellerin had nothing immediate on Gallant. He wasn’t spilling his goaltending plans, either. Poulin said he had not been informed where he’s bound. There’s no morning skate tomorrow.
With McIver, Matt Donovan and Jordan Hill ejected, Bridgeport played the last 10:31 with three defensemen; no forward sliding back. Of course, when they were facing a five-on-three after the third brawl, with Gallant in the room and three guys in the box, they had only eight skaters available in all.
FUN FACT: One of the linesmen Feb. 1, 2002? Chris Low. One of the linesmen tonight? Chris Low.
Skilliter let them play for most of the first; had no problem with the calls once they got going until the Jack Combs call, hooking Prout, which looked a little chintzy from up here. But then Brock Nelson really hooked him during the delayed penalty and got away with it, so it evened out in a hurry.
Prescout. A few players on an offensive tear recently for the Monarchs.
They had a shootout tonight in the Coast that went way, way too many rounds. (H/T: @nafsnep.) Some reports on Twitter say 22 rounds; there are 21 on the box at this moment, with five credited tallies among those 42 shooters. Call it a draw, boys.
Bobby Valentine — yes, Bobby Valentine — is taking over as Sacred Heart athletic director.
I’m forgetting something. Ah well. Another memorable Feb. 22 in Springfield. More tomorrow.