Different kind of last minute: Hartford postgame

With 2:05 left in Sunday’s game, not long after the Sound Tigers had killed Hartford’s fourth power play, Christopher Gibson held onto a bad-angle shot from his left. Out came Whitney (with three goals in his pocket for the second time in eight days)-Kearns-Collberg, Czuczman-Pulock.

It was a long while before they left the ice.

They iced the puck off the draw: Hartford pulled Magnus Hellberg with 2:00 flat left. Another icing with 1:54. Another icing with 1:35; Bridgeport thought Ryan Graves had a play on it. Time out, Hartford.

Gibson stopped Graves off that draw. Jayson Megna had an open side, lost the handle, and anyway would’ve had to put it past a just-arriving Czuczman. They couldn’t get it out. Brian Gibbons’ centering pass was blocked. A bunch of passes were blocked. Pulock chipped a puck away from the crease.

“We needed a win,” Collberg said. “Spread to block every shot. We did a great job keeping them to the outside.”

Kearns cleared it, finally, with 27 seconds left… and it trickled all the way down and just across the goal line. Another icing, with 22.6 seconds left. Time out, Bridgeport. And off the draw, it came to the left point to Megna. Collberg spread his limbs out to give Megna no look. Megna wound up. Collberg closed up and blocked the shot. He fired down-ice.

Right into the empty net with 13.8 seconds left. Game over.

“It’s desperation at that point,” Whitney said. “A lot of guys were making sacrifices, blocking shots. Collberg’s empty-netter, he blocks a shot, takes it somewhere it doesn’t feel good, and seals the game.”

Kind of an interesting game. The first was one of the weirder three-in-three first periods I’ve seen in a while; great pace, sloppy enough to keep it interesting, and a very strong Bridgeport period that also included a few holy-bleep Hartford scoring chances. The Sound Tigers settled in in the second, Whitney scoring three times to put them ahead three times. And though Hartford came on in the third, and Gibson was great, they denied the Wolf Pack a lot of great chances late.

“We gave them a couple of opportunities, chances where we didn’t have an F3,” Brent Thompson said. “They got some chances. The second period was back and forth. The third, thery had a couple of chances, but Gibson was good. The PK was good.

“Every guy’s contributing,” Thompson said. “You need 20 guys pulling the right way to get a win.”

Took a while, but there it was.


Gerry Cantlon said Whitney kills Hartford. I was like, Gerry, Whitney kills a lot of teams. But Whitney vs Hartford: 30 games, 19-15-34. “I guess it’s just how it goes,” Whitney said. “We played them a lot in Albany, and now we play them a lot here. I’ve got a lot of chances at them.”

Three different kinds of great efforts, skills with the puck on the first, following a play on the second, getting up from a hit on the third.

“He’s a pretty dynamic offensive player,” Thompson said. “He moves his feet. I liked his game away from the puck too.”

He did that on three shots on goal. And still, Whitney remembered the fourth: Collberg made a great pass to him, he said, but Hellberg sealed it off.

Whitney’s hat tricks eight days apart are the fastest by a Sound Tiger. Rhett Rakhshani had two in two weeks, the second his natural in two minutes in a morning game against Springfield, in 2011. Sean Bentivoglio and Jon Sim had hat tricks six days apart, both against Albany, in 2009.

Here’s a post on Connor Jones’ signing. It got long, so figured I’d break it out.

Asked Thompson about Halmo: “Just a coach’s decision,” Thompson said. “We’ve talked about it. I’m sure you’ll see him right back playing hard.”

Prescout (giggle). But Portland plays Springfield on Wednesday.

Aaron Ness got called up to Washington this afternoon. Even without him, Hershey’s teddy-bear toss collected a small town’s worth of toys.

Guess Bridgeport should be glad Toronto isn’t on the schedule.

Game-winner for one Tage Thompson today as UConn finished a two-game sweep of Lowell.

Team’s off tomorrow. (Not me. Enjoy football tweets.) More Tuesday unless warranted.

Michael Fornabaio