See-saw: Lehigh Valley postgame

I can’t find the quote, so hopefully I’m remembering it right: Pretty sure it was Wade Dubielewicz who said these morning games tended to be predictable. One team came out strong in the first. The other team pushed back in the second. Then they played hockey in the third.

Dubie had this one pegged a decade ago. Bridgeport played one of its best periods in the first.

“We played exactly the way we did the last game in Providence,” Steve Bernier said. “A lot of energy. No turnovers.”

They did not play that way in the second. Young defensemen gonna young defensemen: Mitch Vande Sompel takes a slashing penalty 22 seconds into the period, and there’s a goal. Sebastian Aho turns it over at his own blue line, the Phantoms move it to the other circle, and Danick Martel beats Kristers Gudlevskis short-side.

All that first-period success, all that first-period pressure, erased in 1:55. A delayed-penalty goal makes it 3-2.

They played hockey in the third. The Phantoms got one in transition. That was more than enough.



Connor Jones came off the bench, got in on the forecheck with about 9:20 left in the first period, collided with T.J. Brennan and skated straight back to the bench (well, actually, not quite: he was calling for a change as he neared the bench, and the puck came to him, so he played it once more). He departed at the next whistle. Lower body, Brent Thompson said.

It’s no excuse, obviously, but it’s not an insignificant loss, right? “Any time you lose a player, it changes the chemistry of your lines, the energy levels,” Thompson said. “He’s a big piece of the penalty kill. But it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up. Who can perform in that spot? Who can be energy guys? Pick up his slack? We’ve got to support each other and be better for each other.”

The lines got all jumbled as time went on. See how they look tomorrow. There’s the chance of a call-up after the Islanders put Nikolay Kulemin on IR, but though the brass in attendance chatted for awhile after the game, there was no immediate sign of one.

Devon Toews was credited with nine of Bridgeport’s 44 shots. He also put one wide with the extra attacker in the final minute; had most of the net.

Dumb stat of the moment: Sebastian Aho has six goals in 11 games for Bridgeport. Sebastian Collberg had seven in 85.

Attendance: 8,008 (“and the Nighthawks thank you”–Hal Baird), the same number they announced for Spring Fun in 2015-16. That ties for the fifth-highest mid-week crowd in team history. The top 12 of those, you’ll not be surprised, are morning games. The next couple that aren’t morning games are Boxing Day games. Franchise-opening night is in there, and a Jan. 2 game.

Toronto reassigned Eric Fehr to San Diego.

RIP, Dick Gordon.

And RIP, Roy Halladay, a throwback, a brilliant pitcher, and the guy who made the back end of the Phillies dynasty so hard to hate.

Michael Fornabaio