Wave your Magic Swords: Binghamton postgame

The postgame music mix in the dressing room went “Never Gonna Give You Up” to “All Night Long” to “9 to 5” to “Take Me Home Tonight” to “Take My Breath Away.” Star Wars Night turned into ’80s Night pretty quickly.

It did so in a happy dressing room, obviously. There was a little concern that, with Binghamton in black, the color-on-color might be too distracting. Bridgeport might’ve changed to the whites. It never came to that.

So as fans waved their lightsab… er, Magic Swords, Stephon Williams picked up his first shutout in 13 months in a Luke Skywalker jersey.

“I’ve got to keep doing it, whatever result comes in,” Williams said. “It’s only going to keep getting harder.

“Especially with the success we’ve had, teams are going to be gunning for us.”

It was the first Bridgeport shutout since Jan. 27 — J.F. Berube, against the, ahem, old Springfield Falcons, as was Williams’ on Nov. 7 of last year — and it was sparked by an early penalty kill that included a five-on-three. Ben Holmstrom blocked a shot to help kill that off.

“Our penalty kill, that’s been a strength, for the most part,” Brent Thompson said. “Guys really sacrifice their bodies. They’re doing a fantastic job getting in lanes, getting sticks in lanes.”

Binghamton put lots of long shots on Williams down the stretch, but he was good, solid whenever tested. He showed off that athleticism, like stopping Francis Perron off a kind of broken play going right to left.

“Willy played great. I thought it was one of his more — probably his best game of the year,” Thompson said. “He was controlled. He swallowed them up. He limited rebounds. It looked like he was tracking the puck well.”

That’s two strong games in a row for Williams, 66 out of 67. Eamon McAdam is 6-0. If goaltending was a question mark with Christopher Gibson out, those two guys have helped ease the worry.


Thought Josh Ho-Sang might have played his most-engaged game. I put it that way to Thompson: “I really liked his game,” Thompson replied. “His play away from the puck was good. He had two fantastic tracks. That helps our D with their gaps and puts a lot of pressure on the puck-carrier. Even one forecheck, he finished a hit.” (That was actually one of the moments I wrote “engagement” a few times.) “The result was still that he got points. If he puts the effort in, he’s going to get the points.” (He still wasn’t credited with a shot on goal, though I thought there was at least one. He got at least one puck to the net, obviously, on Tanner Fritz’s power-play goal. That’s six games in a row without an official shot.)

The gamer is mostly on Travis St. Denis, for whom the floodgates are open. “It was good to see him get rewarded,” Thompson said. “He hasn’t changed his work ethic or the way he practices.”

Well, actually, he worked harder. (Williams mentioned St. Denis’ work ethic, too.) “I knew I was struggling,” St. Denis said. “I was staying after practice shooting pucks, shooting during practice burying every chance.

“And also being better in the defensive zone.”

His first goal came on Bridgeport’s first shot, 11:30 in. The Sound Tigers had just about started the game on the penalty kill, but the kill came up big.

It also meant that Stephen Gionta didn’t get an even-strength shift for a while… though he appeared on the first shift of that first penalty kill. “Injured, out for two months, and my first shift’s on the PK. That’s always a good way to start,” Gionta joked. I had him for 12 five-on-five shifts, but a few on the penalty kill and one at four-on-four, too. “After the first period, my legs felt a lot better,” Gionta said. “I got them under me. I started moving my feet.”

Just good to be back, too: “The fun part of this game is playing,” he said.

Prescout. The top four teams in the East Atlantic are separated by a point. (Incidentally, that whole what-if-they’d-lost-all-those-OT-games thing of mine? The cold water is more lukewarm now: At 9-6-6, they might be five points behind a third-place Hershey team, but they’d still be in fourth, a point ahead of Providence.)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie Thomas Di Pauli, meanwhile, is out 10-12 weeks after back surgery, the team announced.

Back at it tomorrow. (Shortly.)

Michael Fornabaio