Happy Anniversary: Leads in a playoff series

Today is April 26, 2016. Exactly 10 years ago tonight in Wilkes-Barre Township, Pa., something happened that hasn’t happened since.

There was no panic, just the desperation that had been missing for two games and the patience that had too often been there.
And after trailing by two goals, the road-warrior Bridgeport Sound Tigers pulled out another one, 3-2 over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 5 of the East Division semifinals Wednesday night, leaving them a win away from the second round.
Masi Marjamaki scored 2:11 into overtime to defeat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Wachovia Arena.
The Sound Tigers lead the best-of-7 series 3-2; it continues Friday at Bridgeport. The Penguins need to win to send the series back here Saturday for Game 7.

And in those exactly 10 years since, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have never yet again played a playoff game and finished it with a lead in the series.

They never had a lead two nights later in Game 6 back in Bridgeport; Ryan Stone scored 13:39 into overtime to tie the series. They never led in Game 7.

They never led in Game 1 in 2009.

They led for most of Game 1 in 2010 — 53 minutes, 12 seconds of it, in fact — but Mathieu Perreault, Nygel Pelletier, etc.; Hershey won.

They almost led in Game 1 in 2012, but John Persson, Mark Lemelin, etc.: Hartford got the shutout.

And they led for 13:06 the other night thanks to T.J. Brennan’s turnover and Justin Florek’s pounce, but then came the calm blue ocean to wash them away in the second period. It’ll take a historic comeback to end that streak (and several others) this spring.

That combined 66:18 in 2010 and 2016 is, in essence, the only lead the Sound Tigers have had in a playoff series in a decade.

In fact, beginning with Game 6 in 2010 (edit, three years later: 2006) up to Sunday, Bridgeport has played 17 playoff games. The Sound Tigers led 2010 Game 1 and 2016 Game 1 for that 66:18. They led Game 2 in 2009 for 30:48. They led Game 3 that year for a tick less than nine minutes. They led Game 2 against Hershey for 22:35. And they led Game 4 against the Bears (never trailed, in fact) for 44:53.

In those 17 games — 1069 minutes, 5 seconds, including overtime — Bridgeport has led for a combined 173:33. It is 2-15 in those 17 games. The victories are the 4-1 win in Game 4 in 2010 against the Bears, completing the three-in-three, and Game 3 in 2009, in which the Sound Tigers trailed 4-1 but came back to tie it and win on Sean Bentivoglio’s overtime goal.

One regulation win. Under three game’s worth of actual clock-running lead time. Six consecutive losses in all. Four consecutive home losses (and 13 out of 14). Five consecutive road losses. Going further back, six consecutive series losses. All of those are close in one direction or another to halfway to the league record, one of which it already owns, nine consecutive home losses.

But that night in Wilkes-Barre Township, Masi Marjamaki gave Bridgeport hope, a hope that 2006 might be more like 2002 or even 2003. He gave it a lead.

Michael Fornabaio