Hats off all around: WBS postgame

While no one threw a hat for Justin Florek — confusion over the first goal, maybe, originally credited to Ben Holmstrom? Dunno, but hey, the hats average is usually around 0.5 anyway — Stephon Williams was having another day.

“I think the best way to describe it is knowing it’s playoff hockey,” Williams said. “It’s been a learning year, a lot of ups and downs, but we’re at the point of the year now where you can’t be a rookie anymore. Especially in the position we’re in with the playoffs. It’s time to see the work pay off and put all the pieces together.

“Me and Gibby will try to keep things rolling.”

Solid game, if not as busy and perhaps not as spectacular as he was last night three hours away.

“He’s worked hard,” Brent Thompson said. “He’s been patient.”

And he’s got his record back above .500, 10-9. Bridgeport’s is even better.


And yep, snakebit Florek with his first pro hat trick. A good night for him and Holmstrom, losing their linemate but, with a few different players hopping in there, still producing. “It takes the load off our other lines,” Holmstrom said.

The bench got short in the third period. They started going mostly with Verhaeghe-Kearns-Halmo, Wright-Jones-Markison and Florek-Quine-Holmstrom. And they kept coming for most of the third period, pretty well in control of the back half of the third period. Which might’ve been all the more remarkable, being that they were finishing a three-in-three and the Penguins had been off Friday.

“It’s the last period of nine,” Holmstrom said. “There’s nothing to do besides the guys really wanting it.”

Thompson said he didn’t have an update on Justin Vaive. “Dangerous hit,” he said. It wasn’t your typical ram-guy-into-wall boarding penalty; Barry Goers initiated the contact from about the ad in the right faceoff circle, about 10-12 feet from the boards. Vaive was knocked down from behind and into the boards.

Thompson said this about Florek: “He plays the game the right way. Defense-wise, he does the little things. He’s what you need and want in that locker room. …He’s a guy who gets so many chances, purely from working hard.” Listening to it, I thought back, coincidentally, to Tim Erixon’s dad. It always seemed like Jan Erixon found himself in amazing position to score and somehow wouldn’t. But he did everything else.

The 36th hat trick in team history, and record sixth this year. Evening out last year’s none, I guess. First in Bridgeport, apparently, for Mike Ashmore, who’s not used to how they’re generally celebrated around here. All six have been at Harbor Yard. The past 10 have, actually; none on the road since Justin DiBenedetto’s at Albany early in 2011-12. First ever against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. They’ve never had one against Providence. Of this year’s opponents, they’ve also never had one against Rochester or Utica (four whole games each) or against the St. John’s IceCaps, though Jason Krog had Bridgeport’s only playoff hat trick in Game 4 at St. John’s against the Maple Leafs in 2002.

Prescout. Three points for Dakota Mermis, who scored his other goal to beat Bridgeport the second-to-last time the Sound Tigers were there. A power-play goal and a short-handed goal for Jeff Tambellini in defeat, which feels familiar.

Ryan Graves scored twice in the third period to propel Hartford past Portland. The Wolf Pack’s 66 points make them now the top team not in a playoff spot. St. John’s has 65 with 13 games left. Rochester has 63 with 16 to play. That’s the battle for fourth in the North, but now it’s Portland taking their place with 67 and 16. Bridgeport’s at 72 with 14 left. Providence is at 72 (a tiebreaker behind, that way) with 15. Bridgeport is actually now just as close to the Penguins (77 with 14) as it is to the Pirates.

The NCAA had its men’s basketball bracket leak this evening. CBS was still revealing it. According to Twitter, it may still be revealing it, because apparently they tried to stretch 68 names into two hours. The NCAA released this statement, which suggests that not only can’t they keep their bracket a secret, but they don’t know their idioms.

Anyway. Team’s off tomorrow. (Not us! But them.) More Tuesday unless warranted.

Michael Fornabaio