It might not be must-win, but close. Opponent going nowhere. You’re locked in a battle.
The point they gave Hartford is nothing, really. They survived and advanced.
“Hartford played so hard. Every time we play them, it’s a war. It’s a playoff game,” Brent Thompson said. “I thought the intensity level was there the entire game. I thought we were sloppy with our puck management, which gave them opportunities to continue to come at us. But we found a way. Our team is resilient. We had to climb out of a hole three different times.”
Didn’t hurt, he and Otto Koivula said, having a couple of NHLers on the bench with them.
“It was fun to play a game,” Andrew Ladd said. “I thought it was good to get an opportunity to get some game action. It was fun to get back in.”
Said Thomas Hickey, “it was just good to get back into a game. It’s been a really long time. I’m just thankful they welcomed me with open arms.”
They each scored a goal, Ladd on a first-period deflection, Hickey on a point shot that seemed to elude nine different bodies on the way in.
“It’s nice. I didn’t want Ladder to show me up,” Hickey said with a grin. “It’s good to contribute. It’s been a little while for me, and it’s a nice way to get back started, and just ending on that note with Otto scoring a big goal, it’s big for the morale.”
Sorry for the delay. There was a postgame skate, and the music kept going afterward. Had to get out of there for my sanity. Bonus: gamer’s already up.
Koivula had two chances on his first overtime shift, blowing past a tired defender on the right side each time. He thought Brandon Halverson got a piece of his first try, and he lost the puck trying to go five-hole on the second. “Third chance was the charm,” Koivula said.
Christopher Gibson had held out the left pad to deny Ryan Lindgren about a minute earlier on a kind of static two-on-one. Vinni Lettieri had the puck, Hickey was in between him and Lindgren, and everyone else presumably was getting back there eventually.
Figured Ladd and Hickey knew just about everyone from camp, but it really wasn’t until Ladd started ticking off names that it struck me how many guys he’d played with in the past year and a half up top. Hickey, even, had played with Matt Carkner and been coached by Thompson on the Island for a couple of years.
“I feel like I know everyone pretty well here, just through the years of guys that I’ve either played against on the circuit or guys that were at camp,” Hickey said. “I think as an organization we’ve got a close group. Even during the season, guys keep a close eye on the Sound Tigers and make sure they’re doing well.”
Thompson on the lineup rotation: “It helps having two NHL guys down on conditioning, but the extra bodies we have, it was an opportunity for those guys to come in and give us a little energy boost.
“There’s no guarantee who’s going tomorrow,” he added. “We’ll talk about it tonight. … Every guy has a value on our team. There isn’t anyone who isn’t part of this group winning. … It’s a special group of guys.”
Belated note from last night: First time since 2008-09 that Bridgeport has had two goalies with an assist (Peter Mannino 3, Nathan Lawson 2).
Elsewhere, prescout, which at least lets Bridgeport open up a little room to Providence. Hershey got a point in its 14th in a row. We’re not quite into “this race, man” territory, but if Providence, Lehigh Valley and the Bears all won their games in hand on Bridgeport, second through fifth would be separated by a point.
After Worcester’s Tyler Barnes, that slacker, failed to score a goal last night in Texas for the first time in nine games, he scored the only goal tonight in Oklahoma.
Two funny bits that didn’t make yesterday’s Sacred Heart story (the Pioneers salvaged a split today in overtime). When the Pios won seven in a row in 2003-04, it helped spark them toward the AHA final. But… that followed a 10-game winless streak, 0-7-3. It was really 0-8-3, but one was an exhibition. In all they started 4-17-3 including two exhibition losses, to St. Clair, and to the Under-18 national team.
The other may remind you of a piece of Sound Tigers history. Remember in 2009: Sound Tigers among the top teams in the league, set to have home-ice advantage in a playoff series for the first time in five years… but Sesame Street Live is booked for the Arena at Harbor Yard, forcing the Sound Tigers to play two home games on Long Island.
The Pios could host only their second home playoff series in nine years. If they don’t get a bye into the quarterfinals, guess what’s booked into the arena? Elmo.
Can’t make it up.
And RIP, Gene Littler.