Bridgeport won six of its first eight Game 1s, but it has been on the wrong end of the next three, and on the wrong end of controversy at a crucial moment in each of them. This is obviously a key for tonight. (Cough. One has nothing to do with the next has nothing to do with tonight, but sports is a series of shared experiences, so…)
Game 1: 2009 East Division Semifinals, WBS 3, Bridgeport 2 (April 17 at Nassau Coliseum): Off the opening draw, Pascal Morency dumped Paul Bissonnette and was called for hooking. At 1:22, Chris Minard knocked down a rebound (whacking Nathan Lawson with his follow-through) into the net. Ref Dave Banfield said Minard didn’t strike it with a high stick. Garth Snow disagreed, and the replay was shown on the scoreboard approximately 27 times. The Pens led 3-0 by 11 minutes into the second.
Game 1: 2010 East Division Semifinals, Hershey 4, Bridgeport 3 (overtime) (April 14 at Giant Center): The Big One. A Bridgeport fan hoping their team will shock the world the next two weeks need only look back to this one six years ago, when Bridgeport went into Hershey and… well. The Sound Tigers led 3-1 with six minutes to go. Hershey got one back. Then with 68 seconds left, Mathieu Perreault reached up, batted a loose puck past Scott Munroe, and got the tying goal, as allowed by Nygel Pelletier. “Strictly over his head,” said Jack Capuano after the game (before or after Rod Pasma walked by? Can’t remember). Bridgeport later believed it had a shot-tip go past Braden Holtby and through the net, but it couldn’t be sure. Andrew Joudrey’s deflection in overtime is the one that actually decided it. A couple of years later, there was video replay in the AHL — limited; it probably wouldn’t have settled the Perreault play, but it might’ve settled the Martin through-the-net deflection — from Bridgeport’s owner’s company and tested first here.
Game 1: 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Hartford 3, Bridgeport 0 (April 19 at Webster Bank Arena): Amid a two-period chess match of matchups between the Sound Tigers and the Connecticut Whale, Bridgeport got a power play with 7:53 left in the second period. John Persson poked home a loose puck on the power play to break a scoreless tie… except Mark Lemelin had lost sight of it and was in the process of blowing it dead. Nothing to be done: It remained scoreless through two. Kelsey Tessier scored on a breakaway at 1:03 of the third. The Whale tacked on two more.
And Bridgeport’s home scoreless streak, going into Saturday’s game, is 141 minutes, 29 seconds, back to a Robin Figren goal on April 18, 2010, against Hershey.
Stephon Williams was first off. Apparent scratches are Kyle Burroughs (said he’s feeling good, but Brent Thompson said they want to make sure he’s 100 percent), Matt Carkner, Loic Leduc, Kyle Schempp and the suspended Ross Johnston. Anthony Greco didn’t get bagged but was the last of the others off the ice. If he’s in, that’d be interesting. The rest of the group was pretty much as it has been all week, would expect lines as they were, Kane Lafranchise and Parker Wotherspoon likely together, Finn-Cullity reunited, Czuczman-Mayfield.
While we’re here, last night’s playoff roundup: The Toronto-Bridgeport winner gets the winner of Albany-Utica, and the Devils got the jump Friday night. The Devils took leads of 2-0 and 3-1, holding the Comets without a shot in the second period before giving up both goals in the third. Scott Wedgewood got the start and made 12 saves. Portland won Game 1 against Hershey, beating the Bears 6-4 behind two Rob Schremp goals and three assists for Rocco Grimaldi. Out west, two goals for Tyler Bertuzzi in Grand Rapids’ 3-1 win over Milwaukee; Jonny Brodzinski scored late for Ontario as they beat San Jose. (This is quite a stat from the league office.)
All eight series are in action tonight, with Lake Erie and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton looking to move on.
Missouri finished off a sweep of Quad City and moves on to the second round, beginning next weekend. Carter Verhaeghe had five points in the series, Bryce Aneloski had four, and both Josh Holmstrom and Jesse Graham had three.
David Leggio, Keith Aucoin and Munich are champions of Germany.
And some guy named Alan Quine or something like that did something late last night in Florida, I don’t know, wasn’t paying attention.