Road game: Bridgeport at Charlotte (1)

  • Who, when, whatever: Bridgeport at Charlotte, Bojangles’ Coliseum, Friday, 7 p.m.
  • The past two times you did this, you played on the arena name… The sausage biscuits are solid there, buddy. But my can’t-call-them-little-they’re-practically-grown-ups-wait-how’d-that-happen cousins Mia and Sophia do like to pronounce it as if it were Spanish, “Bo-HAN-glays,” so we’ll go with that.
  • Watch: AHLTV pay-per-view
  • Listen: Mixlr audio
  • Twitters: Alan / the Sound Tigers / the Checkers / Jason Shaya
  • Box score: Absolutely (R: Faist, Fernandez; L: Shiley, Wicklum).
  • Wait, who? Bridgeport had Jason Faist once before, April 6 at Wilkes-Barre, the Sound Tigers’ last win of last season. It’s their first game with Sean Fernandez, who worked last year’s Kelly Cup Final.
  • Storyline: No. 1 vs. No. 2 (in points, at least), in the division and overall. Bridgeport is coming off an overtime loss in which it blew a two-goal lead late. (Bridgeport is 8-2-3-1 when leading after two; only three other teams have failed to win more than three games they led after 40. On the other hand, Ontario has led only five times out of 24 games in all after two.) We’ll see how Tanner Fritz is.
  • Meh, what else is going on: Worcester hosts Adirondack after beating Brampton Wednesday on a late Ryan MacKinnon PPG. Devon Toews did not make his NHL debut last night, but he did beat Bridgeport to Charlotte. (Didn’t stay as long.) Johnny Boychuk apparently dodged a bullet, and thus so did the Bridgeport defense corps. The All-Star Game is coming, and ol’ buddy Colin McDonald, former (42-goal-scorin’) Springfield Falcon, will be a playing captain. C-Mac’s teammate Chris Conner picked up his 500th AHL point on Wednesday.
  • Did Sean “Down Goes Brown” McIndoe just highlight a Hartford Whalers video with a song that will bubble up from your subconscious at the weirdest times: He did. He really, truly did.
  • Were you just last night trying to remember who it was on, you think, Channel 8, who did a song at this same time, rhyming “Torrie Robertson, he’s our man” with “If he can’t do it, John Anderson can”: I was. Any help? Or the name of the instrumental goal song the Nighthawks had at the same time?
  • Aren’t you supposed to be doing something else: What, like a Podcast!? Coulda used a boat on the way home.
  • If this were a regular blog post, what word or phrase would most likely follow “More” at this point: “In a bit.” Semi-old-school liveblog to come. Contain your excitement.

I mean, we’re here, might as well keep up.

–If the online box is an indication (it’s unofficial till gametime), it’s Smith vs. Darling, and Bridgeport’s only switch would be Ben Holmstrom in, Ryan Bourque out, vet-for-vet, still no Fritz (who, it’s our understanding, did skate this morning). See what if anything that means for the lines.

F: Dal Colle-Koivula-C.Bourque
St. Denis-Kubiak-Bernier (A)
Eansor-Hitchcock-B.Holmstrom (C)
D: Wotherspoon-Burroughs
Vande Sompel-Aho
Helgeson (A)-Casto
G: Smith

F: Saarela-McKegg (A)-Poturalski
Lorentz-Geekie-Brown (C)
D: Carrick (A)-Renouf
G: Darling

Scratches (believed healthy unless noted): Bridgeport: Rathgeb, R.Bourque (veteran), Fritz (lower), Gionta (suspended 2/3). Charlotte (since they tweet it): Didier (inj.), Wesley, Maenalanen (ill), Smallman (inj.), Stortini.

–Bridgeport twice gets a stick on a clearing attempt; Darling stops St. Denis, but Bernier fires home the rebound from the slot. 1-0 Bridgeport at 5:17.

–Casto outbattles Geekie for a Charlotte dump-in, then draws a hook. Bernier, Chris Bourque, Koivula, Hitchcock and Aho on the first unit… and it’s 2-0 quickly with 12:48 left. Hitchcock takes a pass from Aho into the zone on the left side and centers to Bernier.

–The AHLTV clock is struggling to keep up.

–Nice job by Aho on the PPG, beating the first PKer on the rush, sending Hitchcock in, then driving to create room for Bernier behind him.

–Bernier had a breakaway with 6ish minutes left, calling for a stretch pass and getting it. Darling denied him the natural hat trick.

–2-0 Bridgeport after one. Shots 11-6 Bridgeport. Steve Bernier had five of them.

–A couple of near-misses for the Checkers in the first eight minutes of the second… and as I look at my many typos in that half-sentence, the Checkers get one back at 8:07. Bernier tries to rim it behind the net, but Saarela picks it off and gets it to the front to Poturalski. 2-1 Bridgeport.

–Renouf for boarding on the next shift. Bridgeport’s second PP.

–Bishop called for boarding Vande Sompel at the end boards to Smith’s left. It’ll be a five-on-three.

–Cripes, it has been fun watching Bourque every day. Reaches to get Aho’s pass on his backhand, quickly back to his forehand, to Dal Colle in the right circle, past Darling. Bridgeport leads 3-1, and it did come on the two-man. Power play continues.

–Second unit was Bellows, Sislo, Dal Colle, St. Denis and Vande Sompel, by the way. Two-man was Sislo, Bernier, Dal Colle, Bourque and Aho. Back even, 7:35 left second.

–Wotherspoon for holding Kuokkanen. First Checkers PP with 7:21 left in the second.

–Nice stop on McKegg in front after Poturalski, who’d put one wide earlier in the PP, couldn’t quite get a handle on a bouncing puck in the left circle.

–Vande Sompel scores on the rush with 4:48 left in the second, cuts left, wrists it off the post, gets a carom off Darling and in. 4-1 Bridgeport.

–One more before the buzzer: Burroughs keeps in, puts it toward the net; it’s blocked, but it caroms to the slot, where Eansor backhands it over Darling’s glove (Darling might’ve gotten a piece… or maybe even Hitchcock, who was in front of him and led the flyby) with 1.2 seconds left. It’s 5-1 Bridgeport after two. Shots 21-17 in all, Charlotte by one that period.

–McKeown’s stick helicopters into the stands a few minutes into the third. Looks like everyone’s OK.

–Checkers’ second PP comes with 11:37 left on a Bellows interference minor.

–Penalty expires. Fixed the link to the Worcester box.

–McKegg has enough of the battle in front, pops Burroughs. Fourth Bridgeport PP.

–And a little while into that, Renouf and Sislo get together at a faceoff. It apparently only winds up a misconduct on Renouf.

–Bourque from the top of the left circle makes it 6-1 Bridgeport. Aho gets his third power-play assist. Koivula also gets an assist. 5:16 left.

–Schilkey runs into Smith, setting off a scrum and a Helgeson bout with Bishop with 2:26 left. Smith stayed down a few seconds but seems to be OK. Penalties all even out.

–Bernier doesn’t have a shot since the first period. Slacker.

Bridgeport 6, Charlotte 1, final. Caught some bounces at the important times but got the job done effectively in both ends. Smith was big as well when it mattered. They’ll try it again tomorrow.

Michael Fornabaio