Down two goals twice to the best team in the league, Bridgeport had an answer.
“There was no panic in our group of guys. They had to respond,” Brent Thompson said. “It’s really, the shift after the goal, how are you going to respond? What are you going to do next?”
Josh Ho-Sang pointed to the first Bridgeport goal as a turning point. They’d fallen behind 2-0, and “like two minutes later, Stevie (John Stevens) scored a hard-working goal, just grinding to the net, and after that, the whole game turned around for us. We had so much energy on the bench. We knew we could get it by this guy. If we kept working, pucks would fall on our side.”
And then there was that shift late in the second, coming out of a promo time out. Nicolas Roy’s line kept it in against five Bridgeport defenders, then got off so another set of Checkers could keep it in against those same five Bridgeport defenders, for about two and a half minutes, a bit like that Sound Tigers shift against Lehigh Valley earlier in the year.
“I thought it was a great defensive shift,” Thompson said. “(The Checkers) controlled the zone time through that, possessed the puck, but I thought we did a good job keeping them to the outside. We weathered the storm. That team’s a great hockey team. They’re fast, dynamic. I thought we did a great job weathering the storm and building on that defensive shift.”
They built on it to the point that, less than a minute later, the Sound Tigers had the lead for good.
There’s a lot of Josh Ho-Sang in the gamer. Here’s a little more.
What clicked: “I just feel like when you look at the ice time, it goes hand in hand. It’s like, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Is he playing me because I’m working hard? Am I playing better because I’m playing? I think there’s two components to it.”
After talking about struggling to produce: “For me, I start getting scratched. For the first little bit, it’s pretty depressing. This week, I just decided I wasn’t going to let anything hold me back. I was going to play good hockey again. I kind of got out of my own head and focused on being who I am and not worrying about anybody else.
And hitting the post on the empty net: “That was ridiculous. I’ve never done that in my life. Don’t ask me to do it again.”
The last five-point game for a Sound Tiger was Travis St. Denis’ last season, which also included a natural hat trick. There’ve been six five-point games (Comeau, Tambellini, Mauldin, Strome) and eight naturals (Mapletoft (the very first hat trick), Papineau, Bergenheim (in the four-goal game), Iggulden, Rakhshani (in 1:59), Quine).
Lines resolved in the second period to:
Ladd – Fritz – Ho-Sang
Ho-Sang was taking first-period draws at least on the right side.
Presumably it for Thomas Hickey’s and Andrew Ladd’s Bridgeport careers. Like Tom Kuhnhackl, they’ll depart with pretty good points-per-games. Hickey: “I think the big thing was just coming in and being part of a team again, and a couple of big wins for us. It was fun to be part of it and contribute.” Feeling good? “Six periods, and I think I got better every single one of them. I feel I’m ready to go.”
Ladd also said he got what he was looking for. “I think so. Like I said yesterday, there’s no other way to simulate playing games other than playing games. To have the opportunity to come down here and do that, play lots of minutes, it was fun for me. We’ve got a great group down here, and a couple of good wins for them. … To be able to play back to back and be able to come out of it feeling good, it gives you that confidence going forward, so it’s good.”
Bridgeport dodged tying the team record for consecutive overtime games, four (two times).
Tyler Barnes has a point in 13 in a row. But Worcester lost.
And a belated Saturday note: Just counting all overtime games as either wins or losses, the all-time series between Bridgeport and Hartford is now 89-88-3 in the Sound Tigers’ favor. This is the first time Bridgeport has led that all-time series since 2006. Hartford went 9-1 in the season series that year, and the second of those nine wins, which came in a row, tied the series at 25-25-3. To bring it all back home, the only Bridgeport win in the season series that year was the first, Oct. 13, 2006: Blake Comeau’s five-point game, the first ever for a Sound Tiger.
More Tuesday, most likely, when we expect the team’ll be doing something cool for the second year in a row.