Gritty, gutty: Hartford postgame

Brent Thompson called this three-in-three one of the hardest he remembered in a long time. And they won them all.

“We were fatigued,” he said. “Our effort was there. It was undeniable, the work ethic.” (And yes, both halves of that thought were obvious from up top.) “That’s a great hockey team; they’re fast. It was an intense hockey game.

“Smitty played great for us tonight, and our guys competed as a group. That’s the biggest thing. You play as hard as that, you’re going to be rewarded. We got a few lucky puck bounces our way.”

Jeremy Smith came up huge again. He has a .931 save percentage over his past seven games, which include six wins. A handful of stops tonight were point-blank.

“Definitely a greasy road win. It’s always tough to come back after break and have a three-in-three. It just shows the type of guys we have in the room,” Travis St. Denis said.

“Great linemates tonight, uh,” linemate Chris Bourque said, walking by.

“Great linemates,” St. Denis agreed with a laugh. “The coaches got us ready for all three games. We were prepared.”

Three nice plays to score: Ryan Bourque to Kieffer Bellows to start it, Chris Bourque breaking up a play to send St. Denis and Otto Koivula ahead; Koivula stops Matt Beleskey and saucers it on the backhand to spring St. Denis and let everyone go home and sleep.

“I’m happy the weekend is over,” Koivula said. “We sacrificed everything. We did a great job in three wins. What can you ask?”


St. Denis has four overtime goals for Bridgeport. Jeff Hamilton had six; Mark Wotton is the only other Sound Tigers with four. St. Denis’ 4-1-5 totals in OT tie him with Wotton for sixth in overall scoring. Devon Toews — remember that guy? — is the leader at 2-6-8.

Misconduct to St. Denis after Bridgeport’s second goal for abuse of officials. Asked him what he said. He laughed and didn’t say a word.

The Sound Tigers went 9-2-2-0 in December. Most points they’ve had in a calendar month since their insane 10-0-0-1 January 2012.

Alan tipped us off pregame that Yannick Rathgeb has played the wing before, played some forward growing up and said he was half-and-half, forward-and-D, at his Under 18 World Championships.

“It was fun. It was a bit different,” Rathgeb said. “A bit more skating, harder skating. As defensemen, you get on the ice and react a bit more than act, but it was fun.”

I wondered semi-glibly if, as a defenseman, it ever takes a second to click in his mind in the defensive zone where he’s going. “The way hockey systems work, the wingers come really low into the middle of the ice, and I know what I like to see when I play on D,” Rathgeb said. “I know what I want from my forwards. I tried to do it as much as possible. On certain breakouts, there’s a little thinking: Should I turn this way, that way be the best, slash across. I feel like I figured it out pretty quick.”

First NHL point for Michael Dal Colle tonight in a big night for the Big Club.

From Ben Birnell, Utica and Vancouver have re-upped their affiliation for two to six years.

Florida traded goalie Michael Hutchinson to Toronto.

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold won his 500th game. (St. Denis caught it.)

Worcester lost to the Mariners for the second night in a row (though the night before was a shootout game).

The U.S. beat up on Kazakhstan last night at the World Juniors. The Americans are playing Sweden tonight.

Well-earned day off tomorrow. More Monday.

Michael Fornabaio