There were moments where it could’ve turned around. There were shifts where it looked like they were putting something together. Heck, on the shift where Providence took a lead, Michael Dal Colle nearly scored.
It didn’t. They weren’t. He didn’t. Suddenly Hershey controls its destiny again, and Bridgeport’s hoping for help down the stretch after a game that had Brent Thompson questioning their intensity. In the second-to-last weekend of the season.
“It’s very surprising,” Thompson said. “It’s very disappointing.
“We’ve got a chance to respond tomorrow.”
Chandler Stephenson scored with 8.5 seconds left to give the Bears a 2-1 win in Toronto while the Sound Tigers were late in the first period. Bridgeport knew what it was going to have to do. Two quick penalties in the second, and it was 2-0. They pushed in the third, but they’d dug their hole.
Holmstrom had said the first two periods weren’t where they needed to be, and I wondered if he had any sense of why. “I don’t know where that comes from,” Holmstrom said. “This is playoff hockey. There shouldn’t be an excuse, that guys are feeling tired or whatnot. We’re down to the last five games.”
Five and four ended with the Bruins outscoring them a combined 5-1. They haven’t scored in 112 minutes.
“No one. I don’t think anyone deserved accolades, no one deserved negativity,” Thompson said. “Tonight, as a team, it wasn’t there.”
The short version is that if Hershey wins both games next weekend, Bridgeport can’t finish ahead of the Bears. If the Phantoms or Bruins win any of their remaining games, Bridgeport can’t finish ahead of them. And the Bruins play both the Phantoms and Hershey to close the season, so someone is winning those games. Hartford and Springfield won’t make it easy on them in the next two games. The Penguins will almost certainly have clinched by Game 76, but they’ll still be the Penguins at home. We’ve been saying since the preseason it’ll be tough to get in.
Thompson had talked about this weekend as a mini-playoff series. Bridgeport still hasn’t won a playoff game since 2010.
The left wingers rotated in the second and third: Jones-Holmstrom-Holmstrom, Johnston-Winquist-Wallace, Dal Colle-Stevens-Nowick. On a third-period power play, Jones-Stevens-Nowick got a shift instead of Dal Colle-Winquist-Wallace. “Just trying to shake things up,” Thompson said. “I wasn’t happy with the effort level, the intensity. The power play wasn’t executing early in the hockey game.”
Pulock had talked about needing to get pucks and bodies to the net in general: Power play’s a similar thing? “It’s up to us guys, myself included,” Pulock said. “We’ve got to be better there. I thought we had a couple of close calls. We’ve got to keep putting pucks on the net. We’ve got to simplify. The more pucks we get on net, the better chance we have to score.”
Prescout. That team has declined to go away quietly. I stand by my “2010-11 Bridgeport” analogy. (On the other side, Patrick McGrath’s first AHL goal.)
The Big Club’s out. We’ll see if that means any movement before tomorrow’s games (Connor Jones was scratched tonight), and then who comes back during the week.
Edit: The Coyotes honored Craig Cunningham tonight.
Alaska was eliminated from ECHL playoff contention last night in their final season.
Congrats to Denver, NCAA champions.
And RIP, Richard Bolles.