Syracuse postgame: hats surrounded by fists

They had a talk two, two and a half weeks ago as John Persson was coming back from injury, about how he has to play, the physical game, the skating, the work on the boards.

“And he has to finish,” Scott Pellerin said. “He’s got to (be) that down-low, mean player. He’d gotten away from that.”

It was there tonight. Persson got his first pro hat trick (he remembered one in junior) including three goals that each put Bridgeport ahead.

“It feels like we’re all on the same page,” Persson said.

“It feels like we finally figured it out.”

Because it’s them, it didn’t come easily. Syracuse tied it three times. Each time, Bridgeport had a quick answer, within three minutes. And actually, each time, it was Persson, who had three points for the second Sunday in a row.

Counting Anders Lee’s power-play goal, they got a goal from all four lines tonight, got contributions at the other end from their defense and lots of other people, and got out with their fourth win in a row, matching their season best.

“It’s nice to see other guys chipping in on the offensive side of things,” said Riley Wetmore, who chipped in with a couple of assists, then blocked two shots in the final seconds. “It takes the pressure off (the top line).”

Which was good, because the top line ended up having the end of the night off.


So Ryan Strome picked up the puck from Persson’s hat trick. They celebrated. They started toward the bench. And then… “I really don’t know,” Strome said. “Bouch (Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who may’ve taken a whack to start it off) said something to the guy, and everyone just started pushing.”

Strome walked out of the near-line brawl with his first pro fighting major, and though he didn’t want to make light of it, “it is what it is. You’ve got to be ready. It was kind of fun.”

Two nights in a row that’s happened, interestingly enough, out of a Bridgeport celebration. Jonathan Marchessault skating through last night and meeting up with Strome after the empty-netter, with Ryan Craig skating from across the ice to jump in as Scott Mayfield tried to slow him down and got five minutes for his troubles; and now this.

Bridgeport wasn’t happy; Eric Boguniecki had some words for the officials on the way in after the game. Pellerin was upset with the whole thing: Mike Halmo’s hit on Cedric Paquette inspired Luke Witkowski to go after Halmo and Pierre-Cedric Labrie to go with Anders Lee, which led to a power play that led to, eventually if indirectly, the Strome fight with Paquette. They were looking at video after the game to see if someone coming off the bench sparked the latter.

(Remember when they called instigators? That was a weird couple of weeks.)

So, yeah, fights for Ryan Strome and Alan Quine. You had that exacta this morning, you’re rich right now.

Turns out to be a different cut for Halmo from last night’s, but Pellerin said he’s OK otherwise.

Switch Vaughan and Diamond from the opening combos beginning late in the first period. Both were involved in a goal, Vaughan his second in two nights (getting to the front for a rebound of Wetmore’s wraparound), Diamond losing the handle on a breakaway but putting a backhand pass on Andrew Clark’s stick for a one-timer (“I kind of followed the play up; he made a really nice pass,” Clark said).

Oh, heck, let’s go old-blog-school. First goal: Lee got open inside the PK to take Strome’s pass and fire after they moved it around; Halmo had the screen. Second: Persson called it lucky; Mayfield kept it alive inside the blue line, it caromed off a defender to Persson, and Persson spun in the left circle and fired and got a trickler through Gudlevskis with Langkow going to the net. Third: Wetmore with a hard backhanded wraparound; Vaughan had a step on his defender and roofed it. Fourth was the breakaway-turned-not after Diamond blocked a Nesterov shot; Diamond tried to make a move but lost it going to his forehand, but he spun to the left, took it back into the left circle and found Clark. Where are we? Fifth was Persson off Wetmore’s faceoff win, taking it to the slot with help from Clark and a screen, “top-right,” he said. Sixth: Persson in the slot, getting one shot off, then following it up, driving in for a backhander.

After a stretch where they came kinda fast and furious, Bridgeport’s last three hat tricks have come on a 51-week schedule, Micheal Haley’s on Feb. 11, 2012, in the water-main game, and Brock Nelson’s last Feb. 2 in a win over Norfolk. Persson’s was No. 30 in the regular season for a Sound Tiger. And because Bridgeport held on, still, only one (No. 2) came in a loss.

MoDo apparently expects Kirill Kabanov to report on Monday. (Sorry for no Google Translate link; it breaks this computer for some reason, and I don’t need it broken any more.)

I’m amazed this game started at 5:20. Could’ve been earlier if not for a carpet behind the visitors’ net required for a group of over 100 kids singing the Anthem. Impressive turnaround by the staff.

On other late-game brawling: Pete Iorizzo had a few thoughts on Saturday’s Union-RPI melee. The fallout began with a two-game suspension for Rick Bennett from Union.

Team’s off tomorrow; see you Tuesday unless warranted.

Michael Fornabaio