Heading home: Springfield postgame

Adam Pelech kept pedalling and not getting anywhere. Couldn’t get away from this one on the stationary bike. Couldn’t get anywhere. A lot like how things went on the ice for 60 minutes before that for Bridgeport.

A record-tying second period turned into the Sound Tigers’ worst loss in a little over two years… in arguably the biggest regular-season game in team history. It snowballed. Five goals in the first 10:08 of the second period? It’s flatly mind-boggling.

“Even though you’re playing hard, trying to play the game and not the score, it’s tough,” Pelech said.

From up top, there were moments, even with some early chances, where it looked a little tentative in the first period; win a draw and look back and forth at each other. Retreat rather than contest. Not a lack of effort, just maybe — to dredge a word back up — assertiveness.

As Brent Thompson said, they’ve been in playoff mode for months, so as big as this game was, it’s not like they haven’t been here.

“The entire game was a stumble,” Thompson said. “It was not even close to acceptable in a spot where we’re fighting for our playoff lives. Whether it was nervous, tight: There should be no excuse for that, playing these kinds of games.”

And it’s interesting that he mentioned the nerves, because a couple of players I talked to were all right with their first.

“I thought we came out pretty strong for a road game,” Travis St. Denis said. “Obviously we know what’s on the line. I thought we were prepared well for the game. A couple of bounces they got, we didn’t.”

So they were down on a power-play goal (Chase Balisy won it 2-on-3 behind the Bridgeport net; Mackenzie Weegar makes a nice fake-shot-pass to set up Jared McCann) and a rush goal (after Jayce Hawryluk, who had to appear once more, chipped a puck out past Pelech).

“After the first, it’s 2-0, with 40 minutes to play: We’re fine,” Ben Holmstrom said. “Come out and play the way we play. Get one, and see what happens. The mindset was fine.”

And then it snowballed. They had one hope. Wilkes-Barre tied it up at home. Hershey scored again 27 seconds later.

Wrap meetings Monday. No playoffs for the fifth time in seven years.

To throw a little more salt in the wound, Lehigh Valley roared back to beat Providence and clinch second place. That OTL would’ve kept Providence within Bridgeport’s reach tomorrow had the Sound Tigers won here in regulation or overtime.

Springfield was 0-5-1 against Hershey. I find that hard to believe. Maybe the Thunderbirds just didn’t play them enough in the last couple of weeks. Springfield has beaten Wilkes-Barre, Bridgeport and Providence (twice) since March 31.

Asked if they might send some of the kids out to Wilkes-Barre tomorrow. “I’m going with the guys we usually go with. One day at a time,” Thompson said one more time. “We’ll finish it off, and hopefully with a win.”

Only worse loss in team history was the 8-0 whitewash at Hartford, March 30, 2003, when Steve Stirling benched half the team. Sixth seven-goal loss and fourth 7-0 loss; they’ve also got one 8-1 and one 9-2. Seventh time they allowed five goals in a period, which is the regular-season record. They allowed six Hershey goals in the second period of Game 3 of the 2010 first round. (The next game, Game 4, was the last playoff game that Bridgeport has won.)

Anders Lee and Brock Nelson are going to Worlds.

Kenny Agostino is AHL MVP.

Luke Witkowski showed up at the Syracuse game tonight… a little differently than usual.

And RIP, Dan Rooney.

More tomorrow.

Michael Fornabaio