Gritty, gutty: Providence postgame

First word out of Brent Thompson’s mouth was ‘gutsy’. Not bad.

Particularly late, it was plenty of Pelech-Mayfield against Alexander Khokhlachev as usual. It was also lots of Florek-Holmstrom-Halmo. And while Khokhlachev’s line each had a goal, those five Sound Tigers combined for points on three goals.

“Ben Holmstrom, Justin Florek, Mike Halmo, they’re generating a bit of chemistry,” Thompson said. “Pelech and Mayfield, we’ve challenged them to be able to play against top lines. If anything comes offensively, sometimes your best offense is a good defense.”

It worked for Halmo tonight. After 18 goals in 56 games two years ago, then 10 in 33 last year, he was languishing with two in 31 this year until he doubled that in one night.

The trio has developed some chemistry already, he said.

“I like it,” Halmo said. “We try to match Holmstrom up against top lines, so we play a lot. I accept that role, trying to shut down top guys.

“It’s nice to be put in a position like that.”

Joe Whitney had come on for Florek when Halmo scored his second goal, a rebound off Whitney’s shot, the ultimate game-winner that made it 4-2.

The first one was fascinating. Scott Mayfield picked off Ben Youds’ pass, timed it to avoid an offside and went to the net with it, then followed it up. Bridgeport had both defensemen in tight on that scramble, and Halmo stayed high.

“I thought it was a great play by Scotty to pick it off,” Pelech said. “The puck was laying there. I was waiting to get in, waiting for it to squirt out, and it did.

Pelech got it to him. Halmo fired, and as the net came off — live, I thought it was off first; on replay, I didn’t think so; looking up Rule 63.6, I’m not positive it matters, because Tommy Cross knocked Florek into the right post as Halmo was shooting, so in theory Ryan Hersey, if he thought the net came off during the shot as a product of Cross’ actions, could allow the goal whether the net was on or off — the puck went in.

A good little spark to start a four-goal period and a second consecutive win.


Hersey called one thing each way, a Jared Gomes hook in the first minute and the assault of Connor Jones (well, part of it) in the 14th. It was glorious.

“I think the way the game was reffed today, he didn’t call a lot of penalties, it was nice for us,” Jones said. “We’ve got four really good lines, six really good defensemen. It keeps everybody fresh.”

And Jones showed up with a purpose, throwing a couple of big hits early before being stopped on a breakaway, and, with a spinning whack on Zane McIntyre, sparking the chaos that got him assaulted. (Brandon DeFazio “is way stronger than me,” Jones said with a laugh.)

Two moments on which the AHL’s video-review rule irked Thompson: The last goal of the game, on which Bridgeport thought Seth Griffith established position in the crease before the puck got there and didn’t allow Stephon Williams a chance to make a save; and the empty-net attempt by Joe Whitney with 28.6 seconds left, waved off for a kick and too far out for the over-the-net camera to get a look.

“(The empty-netter) could be a game-changer,” Thompson said, and he’s talked earlier in the year about wishing he had the goalie-interference coach’s challenge, too. On the other hand, he said, Providence probably wanted that icing at the end of the game. It was waved off with Halmo having a little bit of inside position on his defender.

There are only three longer home winless streaks in team history than the one that just ended. (But there are something like seven that lasted four or five, so it’s not like this one really stands out in its tie for fourth.)

Pelech has six points this year. Four of them are against Providence. He has 17 pro points in all. Six are against Providence. He’s like their Raman Hrabarenka.

Biggest non-Cool-Fun crowd since opening night. Attendance always picks up when the Giants’ season ends.

Prescout. New Year’s Day in Springfield, huh? Will be only the second time Bridgeport plays on Jan. 1. (A 4-2 loss in Providence to start 2010 with rehabbing Rick DiPietro in goal.) The next home game is Jan. 2, 2016, which is weird enough. But better than that: It’s against Rochester, for the first time in two days shy of 14 years.

Ray’s got us covered for Gallant-Rechlicz today. That game went to hell after the buzzer. Jaime Sifers with a goal during the game and 25 PIMs after it ended. The loss ended a 15-game Grand Rapids winning streak.

Denmark earned its first World Juniors regulation win, beating Switzerland. The U.S. is back at it Monday morning (9 our time, I think) against Sweden.

And RIP, Joe Strauss and Dave Henderson.

Michael Fornabaio