The box score shows the five players who were on the ice for Bridgeport’s first goal, as every box score does for every goal. But on that one, it’d be nice if Ryan Bourque, Tanner Fritz, Steve Bernier, Parker Wotherspoon and Kyle Burroughs could pick up, like, half a plus.
The Sound Tigers crossed the Hershey blue line 6:34 into the second period on a two-on-one, and Pheonix Copley stopped Bourque a couple of seconds later. Had it ended there, nice enough, a scoring chance, great. But those five guys kept it in the zone, and kept it in the zone, and… well, by the time Hershey cleared the zone, all five of them had left the ice.
“They’re one of the reasons why we got that goal,” Brent Thompson said.
Because when Chris Bourque took the carom of a blocked shot and heaved it down the ice to head to the bench at 7:50 of the second, Christopher Gibson turned it back the other way, catching Hershey changing and sending Scott Eansor, Casey Bailey and John Stevens in alone. The give-and-go made it 1-0.
Gibson was outstanding stepping back in. “He gives you that calming presence,” Thompson said. “He’s under control.”
“The guys put in a good effort. They played the system well,” Gibson said. “Everything (the Bears) had, if they had a shot, rebound, everyone cleared it away.”
Great crowd. (opens attendance file) Biggest non-morning-game crowd since March 12, 2017, against Hartford.
(opens goalie-points file) First assist for a Bridgeport goalie since Jaroslav Halak… March 12, 2017, against Hartford.
Charlotte’s loss at Hartford leaves Bridgeport and the Checkers tied with 50 points in 44 games. Charlotte has more non-shootout wins, so holds fourth place.
Gibson, Alan and Mitch Vande Sompel head up to Utica tomorrow. We… do not. Probably keep an eye on the webcast, though.
Fun to see Ross Johnston again. Was carrying the puck with authority. “Ross played … a physical, confident game,” Thompson said. “He made good decisions. He was defensively solid. That’s a fast team.”
As we talked with Johnston, Leni DiCostanzo jokingly offered us a stick, said he was trying to give it to a kid or something. It was the stick Johnston used to score his first NHL goal in Las Vegas the other night.
“The whole thing,” Johnston said, “you kind of blink twice.” Walking around Vegas, being a kid from PEI, was fun, he said. “Playing in Vegas, that atmosphere, I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for that,” he said. For a nontraditional market, “they know their hockey. They take it very seriously at the rink. It was a great experience.”
Thompson was happy with all three who came down, said Michael Dal Colle made good puck decisions and created chances, and that Tanner Fritz was arguably the best player on the ice.
Bridgeport scored seven short-handed goals last year, the last of them coming on Jan. 4, 2017, at Springfield (an extra-attacker goal, no less) by Bracken Kearns. Until Ryan Bourque’s last night at Springfield, a Sound Tigers forward hadn’t scored another short-handed goal. (The only other shorty, period, was Parker Wotherspoon’s at… Springfield.) So now they’ve got two in two nights, naturally.
Prescout. A couple of tweaks, again, for the Thunderbirds. (And a nice crowd there, too.)
Big win for Worcester. Another win for Eamon McAdam. Three points for Brock Beukeboom. Matty Gaudreau had three points; he’s 4-3-7 in five games since coming back from missing a month.
Best wishes to the great Jim Bransfield.
And RIP, Mort Walker.