It’s always nice when someone gives you the quote so you don’t have to say it.
“It was an ugly game,” Brent Thompson said.
Weird, for sure.
“It was a hard-fought game. Guys really sacrificed a lot tonight. I was happy with the effort. Guys were blocking shots, more than I think we have all season.”
The effort was not to be faulted, for sure, but after Bridgeport got a quick power play and an even-quicker (huge, James Wright low to Tanner Fritz to the net for Alan Quine to bang in the second time) power-play goal, the Penguins more or less took over the next two periods. “Gibby played a heck of a game,” Wright said, and how Christopher Gibson doesn’t get a star, I dunno. “He made key saves when he had to. They outshot us. They probably outchanced us, too.”
And it’s 1-0 Bridgeport after one, 4-0 Sound Tigers after two.
Thompson thought it over a few seconds and said they “showed, maybe, our lack of sharpness at times.” But that said, “I couldn’t be happier.” Can’t blame him. Against a team that’s battling for first place, in a barn that’s sometimes a tough place to visit, Bridgeport went 5-1 against the Penguins (the loss was that early-season, three-in-three vs. rested-team game) and 3-0 at Casey Plaza.
“I think we definitely played a good road game,” hat-trick Quine said. “Tommer makes us play hard on the road. To beat a good team like they are, it’s definitely a confidence boost going to the playoffs.”
*-Through April 2
Quine’s is the sixth natural hat trick among Bridgeport’s 37, and the first since Rhett Rakhshani’s morning miracle on April 5, 2011, all in 1:59. The ninth on the road, and the first since Justin DiBenedetto’s at Albany, Oct. 9, 2011. After going all last season without a hat trick, a franchise first, they have seven this year. And after Justin Florek’s hat trick in the teams’ last meeting was the first for Bridgeport against the Penguins, this makes two in a row.
Kevin Czuczman missed the last shift or two of the first period, and he returned for the last shift or two of the second period, then played the third. Brent Thompson said it was an upper-body issue that they’ll evaluate day to day.
Gibson, being a goalie, was still thinking about those two goals against after the game. Sure looks like he’s back to full strength after sitting out a few.
So it all shakes out with a magic number of 7 for the Sound Tigers. Portland beat Hartford, and Hershey came back from 3-1 down to beat Providence in a shootout (despite Milford’s Mark Naclerio scoring his first as a pro). That leaves the Bruins and Sound Tigers tied in points, Bridgeport a tiebreaker ahead, with seven games left. The Pirates are two points back and would have the tiebreaker, at the moment, over both of them. The Pack fell to four points behind Portland with just six games left to everyone else’s seven. Bridgeport’s magic number of seven is actually against the Wolf Pack, and any non-shootout win for the Sound Tigers or loss of any kind for the Pack will knock it down by an extra one, because Bridgeport would secure the tiebreaker, whether the wins or season-series nod.
Bridgeport’s North-Division half of things is pretty simple. One point for them or lost by Rochester clinches a Bridgeport finish ahead of the Amerks. Three points gained by the Sound Tigers or lost by Syracuse will secure a better finish than the Crunch, though like Hartford, the Sound Tigers just need a real win or a Crunch loss to snag the tiebreaker.
The short version of all that: Not this weekend. As early as the Friday to come, though.
All the Islanders’ first-round draft picks reached the second round with their junior teams. No word if Mitchell Vande Sompel, last year’s third-rounder, will be coming after his team was eliminated.
Prescout. Quite a comeback for a team that hadn’t won in eight games.
Interesting ride home. Made the right turn at Scranton, and ran into this squall of a snow burst. (And on Star Wars Night, you’d best believe I turned the brights on when I could and pretended I was going into hyperspace.) The temperature dipped to 33. The roads were warm, though — it was in the 50s the whole way out — so I was never worried about them, and about 10 miles into I-84, it turned to rain and hovered around 40 the whole way home. But there always seemed to be lightning bolts over the horizon… until I got home, when there were two huge ones about a mile and a half away apiece. Yikes.
The Big Club got “embarrassed” by the big Penguins. Matt Murray got a shutout, and no, this is not a recording.
Brandon DeFazio used a Frank Vatrano stick… and, yeah, writes Mark Divver.
Fairfield’s Quinn Smith was released in Adirondack.
And Jeff Mannix let slip that tonight is linesman Kevin Redding’s last game. Tip of cap to a pro.