For a while, Bridgeport looked to be in midseason form. And by that, I mean turning pucks over left and right.
This is a different team than it was then, though. Things settled down, even against a team like Albany.
“Execution on breakouts wasn’t where it needed to be,” Thompson said. “As far as managing the puck in the neutral zone, I thought we were better chipping, getting pucks behind their defense. Just to control zone time, especially in the third period.”
Both Devils goals came off turnovers by defensemen. Scott Mayfield backhanded one past Jared Gomes into the left circle; it turned into the first goal. Matt Finn controlled a tough pass from Graeme McCormack, settled it, then was under fire, and had his pass tipped away into the slot to Paul Thompson.
“They did come out really hard,” Finn said. “They’re definitely a fast team. … As defensemen, we’ve got to catch them coming at our net. You’ve got to respect their speed.”
Finn more than redeemed himself in the third, helping set up Alan Quine’s tying goal 33 seconds in, then scoring the winner over Ken Appleby’s glove.
“A lot of credit goes to the leadership,” Thompson said. “Especially in the third period. The intensity level was elevated.”
And yeah, five-game winning streaks will help do that, but man, did this division tighten up..
Christopher Gibson will, like the rest of them, get tomorrow off, then have a practice day Tuesday to be ready for Wednesday’s game in Portland. “He was good enough to back up,” Thompson said. “Obviously he’s sore, but tomorrow’s rest will be a good thing.”
Was told Bracken Kearns’ attempted head-butt came not in the scrum with Rocco Grimaldi yesterday but on the way to the box. There does appear to be some kind of, um, tete-a-tete with Kyle Rau. Tonight, missed what led to the empty netter because I was watching Jim O’Brien and Kevin Czuczman attempt to maim each other. O’Brien brought his stick up and looked like he kind of raked Czuczman’s face. (You could hear Czuczman yelp from upstairs.) Czuczman replied with a jab with his stick. They went to the net and tangled with Stephon Williams. Czuczman still somehow managed to move the puck away from that mess to Connor Jones (huge game; will write more about it this week), who sent it on to Wright, who backhanded it in from the red line. (Would have been interesting if it went wide: A Devil dove to try to stop it, and his stick came out of his hands, it appears, after the puck went by. Didn’t matter, though.)
*-Through March 20
Prescout. Portland is still ahead of Hartford on percentage; still behind on points. The Atlantic’s top six all won (Vatrano, you empty-net slacker), actually, except at the top: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came back from two goals down to beat Hershey in overtime. Hence the tie.
Quinnipiac and Yale both wound up in Albany. Second time in four years Quinnipiac could play for a regional championship on Easter. (It was a fun day four year ago to, for the heck of it, take the back roads to Providence and get lost.)