This wasn’t, let’s be clear off the hop, an overextended shift for Devon Toews. This was simple geometry and geography. Bridgeport’s left defenseman in the second period has not only the long change to deal with, but he’s on the wrong side of the ice, too.
Toews went innocently onto the ice with 5:20 left in the second period of what turned out to be a big Bridgeport win. After a promo time out with 5:05 left, he stayed on the ice. And after that, he stayed in his own zone for quite a while. Some teammates escaped off a clear about 90 seconds later. Two more got to the bench two minutes into the shift. At least one guy who had come on managed to get off again before Toews, barely ambulatory at the end, finally got to the bench with 2:18 left, 3:02 after he joined the fray.
And, I mean, these guys won, for crying out loud. “It seemed like there were a few of those tonight,” Toews said. “We’ve got to make sure we get those clears.”
There was a simple reason they won, really, and his name is Jaroslav something or other. We’ve worn out the “kid’s got a bright future” line, but jeez. He was sharp from the start, and if he’s not, this game could’ve gone in entirely different directions.
Instead, Bridgeport got that goaltending, and it got a couple of goals from the power play, two things Brent Thompson was quite pleased about, important in the playoff push.
“To win a championship, we’re going to have to clean up puck plays,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to have to have better execution on breakouts, transition, and strong puck plays. Don’t give teams opportunities off turnovers and extended zone time.”
And they’ll have to be better in the defensive zone, too.
With a little over 15 hours till the AHL deadline, they’re about as depleted right now as they’ve been all year, five guys hurt and two (who could return, at least) up in the Show. But the coach was pleased with how some players stepped up tonight; testimony to their depth, he said, that they’ve remained competitive.
“We’re going to be a work in progress all the way to the playoffs,” Thompson said.
Well, again, they’ve got that Jaro kid, too.
Speaking of the injured list, Thompson said he hadn’t heard anything yet on Travis St. Denis, who as we mentioned this morning was getting checked out after blocking a shot Sunday. Perhaps he’ll know more at tomorrow’s optional; we’ll probably swing by if only to work ahead and check if anything’s happening at the deadline.
The day finally came: Loic Leduc potted his first AHL goal. “It’s great for Loic, getting the monkey off his back,” Thompson said. “He’s been working extremely hard.”
Leduc credited Andrew Rowe, who took Tanner Fritz’s pass into the right circle, beat one guy, got another down, and served it up for Leduc’s one-timer. That had been coming for a while.
A daily double of first goals in the organization: Josh Ho-Sang tallies from long range.
Michael Dal Colle has 13 points in 13 games. Fritz has 17 in his last 13. Ryan Pulock tied Chris Armstrong’s eight-game scoring streak.
It’s where they were coming from: Despite five goals against on 23 shots, Zane McIntyre still leads the league at a 1.90 GAA and .936 SP. Halak slipped to third in both at 2.07 and .931 (Troy Grosenick 2.03 and a slightly better .931) despite 41 saves on 44 shots.
A couple of more ATOs in Hershey.
Sacred Heart’s Justin Danforth signed an ATO with Reading (ECHL).
Said it on Twitter, but tip of cap to Gary Lindgren, state champion coach, cancer survivor, class act with us.
And RIP, Bill Webb.