So long, old friend: How about one more classic, Worcester?

Wistah. Boy, did these cities play some wild games.

We did this once before, didn’t we? Asked the Campbell brothers and Justin Papineau about you. Quoted Bill Ballou’s fantastic line about the IceCats’ losing decisive games in playoff series of all different lengths and how they had “failed for the cycle.” Sent your team off to Peoria. Waited to get Ballou back in this league. And thank goodness it was only one year’s wait. Put Eric Boguniecki in your hall of fame. And now we’re doing this again.

I remember hiking up top before they started curtaining it off, and I remember hearing stories about people being smacked in the gr stricken with lower-body injuries after the T-shirt cannon delivered their payloads in between the railing and the press-box tables. Getting to spend time again with Rich Bocchini. Then in Round 2 came folks like Eric Lindquist and Mike Mudd, and the all-star game featuring Jaime Sifers, and Mike Santorelli usurping Mike Iggulden’s spot in the skills competition.

I wound up going up there in recent years for a few morning skates and a few high school games, which taught me my way around the arena better than years of AHL games. It was only in recent years, too, that I learned my way around town a little. Just a little; didn’t stay all that often, more often outside of town on the way to or from somewhere else. But it’s a fine town. I’ll miss spending time there, hitting the gas station on the way home, chasing an open place for coffee.

We met again once before. We’ll meet again, again. Take care of Ballou for us in the meantime, huh?

TEN… ah, to heck with it, I’m not cutting. TWELVE MEMORIES

Jan. 26, 2002: Come-From-Ahead Night at Harbor Yard. Bridgeport led 5-1 (Jason Krog had a first-period hat trick) in the first 24 minutes, but Worcester scores one before intermission and four in the third — the last against Rick DiPietro, who’d relieved Stephen Valiquette — to win 6-5. Krog’s remains the only Bridgeport hat trick in a loss.
Jan. 19, 2003: Rick DiPietro makes 43 saves, and Jeff Hamilton scores an overtime five-on-four power-play goal (they’d had a two-man advantage, so were allowed to add an extra skater to make it a five-on-three, and the goal came four seconds after the first man returned) to beat the IceCats 3-2 in Worcester.
Dec. 20, 2004: Seven-Second-Delay Night at Harbor Yard. Brett Nowak’s goal, which would’ve tied the game, is disallowed by referee Wes McCauley. The IceCats win 3-1. Greg Cronin goes off on McCauley in the postgame, and as only Cro could do, the profanity is integral to the quotes: We had to work around it. (It was fun to do.)
Feb. 4, 2005: In their last visit to the IceCats, Bridgeport wins 5-1 to end a 15-game road winless streak, which is, despite three disastrous second-half stretches in the past five years, still a team record.
March 21, 2008: Bridgeport’s second game there in three days, and nearly its second loss — a Kip Brennan kneeing major indirectly leads to the goal that gives Worcester a 2-0 lead — but the Sound Tigers come back with four in the third, including Tyler Haskins into an empty net with 38.2 seconds left, cinching an… Ashton Rome with 20.3 seconds left, Tom Walsh off at least one defender with 2.4 seconds left: Tie game. But then Matt Keith scores on a scramble at 4:25.1 of OT to win it. Simple.
Nov. 11, 2011: In addition to the neat 11/11/11 date, this day’s memorable for the incredibly rare three-on-five short-handed goal, scored by John McCarthy in Worcester after the puck bounces past Ty Wishart at the point and McCarthy blows by him.
Jan. 2, 2012: Bridgeport wins the first of three 4-0 wins in a row. Kevin Poulin makes 21 saves. The lowly Sound Tigers, who hadn’t won all 2011, stop losing. It’s the start of something.
March 18, 2012: In this division-championship season, it’s easy to forget they went winless in eight in March. Game 7 of that dip was this 5-2 loss in Worcester. Kevin Poulin gives up a couple of goals, gets pulled, goes to the room. Anders Nilsson comes in, gets hung out to dry, sprains his ankle on a goal against and doesn’t play again that season. It’s a pretty wacky day, actually. It’s the day Tony Romano saucers a puck in warmup, gets under it and almost skulls a lady in the crowd. Earlier in that game, there were four first-period fights, including Micheal Haley and Mike Moore’s infamous fight coming out of the penalty box. (“That’s hockey,” said Haley.) At the first intermission, that’s when they inducted Bogy into the Worcester hall of fame. “Hopefully,” he said, “nobody’s going to come and fight me right now.”
March 27, 2012: Bridgeport trails 3-0 and 4-1 at home. We count heads as they came back for the second to see if Brent Thompson had killed anyone. He hadn’t. Tony Romano finishes with four assists, Kael Mouillierat scores a big goal late in the second, and Bridgeport wins 5-4.
Oct. 26/28, 2012: Kirill Kabanov takes a skate through the left wrist in Worcester and needs emergency surgery across the street. He misses half the season. Two nights later (with a shootout win in Springfield in between), Bridgeport comes back and loses 5-2, then races home to board up for Hurricane Sandy, then bugs out to stay in a hotel in Springfield for a few days.
Nov. 1, 2013: After an abysmal October, Bridgeport wins 7-1 in Worcester. Ryan Strome ties the team record with five points; Mike Halmo earns four.
March 7, 2015: The team-record 10-game losing streak ends with a 4-3 win in Bridgeport’s last visit to the Sharks. Kevin Poulin makes 39 saves.

Michael Fornabaio