Another weird one. “All our games are weird,” Josh Ho-Sang said after this one. Ho-Sang still had his skates a full half-hour after it ended, and that was after some prodding to get going after he’d had his head in his hands awhile.
Bridgeport killed two early penalties, gave up a fortuitous-carom goal seconds later, turned pucks over, broke down, trailed 3-0 before it had a shot. It put 38 shots on goal in the last 46-plus minutes. It tied the game at 3. It fell behind on a fortuitous-carom play (and an apparent look-off shot to fool Christopher Gibson) after failing to get the puck deep, then tied it at 4. And it fell behind again on a bounce. It got beat on the boards. It still could’ve won, for crying out loud.
“We turned the puck over. We gave them opportunities,” Brent Thompson said. “Character-wise, I thought we fought back. A couple of bad breaks, and they were ahead of us.”
But the puck management was the story of the night, to him. They spotted the Phantoms too much. And they’re in third place, and that’s tenuous.
Ho-Sang has four assists in nine games since he came down; a stop on a breakaway was his third shot in those nine games. Justin Bailey got a stick on his pass to help set up the fourth Lehigh Valley goal, and Mike Vecchione knocked the puck away from him to set up the empty-netter. “Inconsistency,” Brent Thompson said. “I think there’s times Josh is dynamic, and times he tries to do too much. It hurts you. It hurts him. For me right now, it’s just a work in progress, continue to develop and work with him.”
The Chris Bourque-Koivula-Bernier line has combined for 17 points in three games. Bourque has seven of them. “I think we complement each other well,” Bourque said. “We’ve got a good puck-possession guy in Bernie; he’s such a big body. We kind of feed off each other and put pucks in the right places. … It’s nice to get some chemistry going, and to contribute offensively is also fun.”
Thompson liked John Stevens’ first game. “He’s solid, reliable, a real smart hockey player,” Thompson said. “I was really happy with his first game, and hopefully he can build off it.”
This was the third goaltending change in six games. Tonight’s, “just hopefully (to) spark the team. I thought it worked,” Thompson said. “I thought Smitty started strong, especially the first two kills. Then you’re down 3-0, and we need to shake something up. I thought it was the right move. It was, at the time. The bounces didn’t go our way at the end of the game.”
Parker Wotherspoon wound up a minus-5 with the empty-netter, which I believe ties a team record (Jeremy Colliton and Rick Berry, of all people, in that New Year’s Eve, 2006-07, against Albany). Tyrell Goulbourne was minus-4 for the Phantoms. Vecchione was plus-4. Bourque and Koivula were plus-3.
Worcester lost at St. John’s; rematch with the Growlers tomorrow.
Elsewhere, farewell to the Connecticut Open, or as we’ll always really know it, the Pilot Pen, though if Pilot Pen was still title sponsor, we might not be saying farewell. Ah well.