The “Sports is a Series of Shared Experiences” Version:
The Sound Tigers have never won on the road when facing elimination, from Game 5 at Chicago to Game 3 at Toronto, six tries. They have come from 3-0 down to force overtime, only to lose 22:05 in. They have gone from 4-1 up to lose in regulation. They have erased three leads, then broken another guy’s stick in overtime. They have scored again after giving up an empty-netter to lose by one again, the only road loss in the series. They have put a mere seven shots on goal in 60 minutes (1-4-2). They have (I don’t know why I don’t remember 2009, aside from that no one had seemed to move from their stalls 15 minutes after the game was over).
They have not won a playoff series since 2003, sweeping Manchester in the first round. This is the 15th anniversary of Game 7 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Bridgeport’s first first-round defeat, the Konstantin Koltsov game, the beginning of the Curse of the Alain Nasreddine Trade. (It is, for that matter, the 13th anniversary of Game 4 against a different Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, a 1-0 loss that started the weird Harbor Yard shutout run we mentioned the other night and kept Bridgeport from taking a 3-1 series lead.)
This team was built to do something different. It already did one thing that a Sound Tigers team hadn’t done in seven years, and on Friday it did one thing that a Sound Tigers team hadn’t done in nine years and another thing that a Sound Tigers team hadn’t done in 13.
It has a chance to do some other things tonight and Saturday.
The “(bleep) happens. Every day. When you least expect it” version:
Take the truest, most random coin ever created. “Play” a best-of-5 series with it. You’ll get a sweep one time in four (if you don’t care which side wins; one in eight, if you do), just by chance. The other “series” will be split evenly between four-game and five-game series. Why? Coin flips. If you get to a “Game 4” without a sweep there is a 50-50 chance the coin comes up tails and you have to flip a fifth time, and there’s a 50-50 chance heads wins 3-1. Why did it happen that way? Just did.
We don’t like to think about sports that way, and there are people — especially people in my profession, for some reason (we are built to tell stories; we seek narrative everywhere) — who bristle at the very thought of this, but little bits of luck often mean a lot.
Yes, sometimes you’re not getting pucks deep and banging their defensemen, but sometimes you don’t get pucks deep and it bounces off a rut and a guy fans on it and you pounce and it’s all of a sudden a new game. What changed?
Sometimes you’re coming on, and you put a shot toward the net, and it flits through the goalie’s legs, kisses the post and goes in to tie the game; sometimes you’re coming on, and you put a shot toward the net, and it flits through the goalie’s legs, hits the post square, bounces back between his legs, sits there a minute, one of your guys finds it first, puts it toward the net, and a defender’s stick shows up to stop it. On such millimeters of iron are built beautiful narratives of grit, desperation and puck management.
(Bleep) happens. Every day. When you least expect it.
All of this is to say that, if you thought this was a coin-flip series, it more or less has been. Coin goes up a fourth time tonight at 7, when Bridgeport tries to get a lot of history off its back.
Game 1: Bridgeport 3, Hershey 2 (2OT)
Game 2: Hershey 2, Bridgeport 0
Game 3: Hershey 2, Bridgeport 1
Game 4: Bridgeport 3, Hershey 2 (OT) (R: Sandlak, Tufts / L: DellaFranco, Ritter) (series tied at 2)
Game 5: Saturday at Bridgeport, 7 p.m.
- Watch: AHLTV pay-per-view
- Listen: Mixlr audio
- Twitters: Alan / the Sound Tigers / the Bears / Zack Fisch / Cory Lyons / Chocolate Hockey
- Storyline: It’s up there somewhere. We’ll be curious about any lineup changes, including John Stevens’ status after sitting out the other night. It appeared that all hands were on deck for practice yesterday. If you were hoping for reinforcements from the draft picks, forget it. Noah Dobson and Rouyn-Noranda swept their playoff series and, if Arnaud Durandeau and Halifax can finish off a playoff series they lead 3-1, both will make it to the Memorial Cup and be gone, for pro purposes, until the end of May. Meanwhile Bode Wilde, Blade Jenkins and Saginaw are up 3-1 in the OHL. Hershey, meanwhile, hasn’t reported any transactions, at least, after the Capitals were eliminated last night. The #BunchOfJerks advances to meet the Islanders; hi, Cal and Nino!
- Meh, what else is going on: Toronto finished a sweep of Rochester last night, extending the Amerks’ playoff-series drought to 14 years, second in the league. Mind-boggling. Tage Thompson had a power-play goal for Rochester; there a bylaw somewhere that a player can go play for his dad when his own team is eliminated? (Brent is likely scouring for one. Pretty sure he’d take Tyce if he could.) Despite missing a couple of suspended defensemen, Charlotte has a 2-1 lead on Providence (three points for Andrew Poturalski last night and can finish it Friday at home. San Diego finished off San Jose in four, while Chicago forced a fifth game against Grand Rapids (Sunday!). Tonight, Iowa can finish the sweep of Milwaukee, and Cleveland has a second chance to finish off Syracuse. Meanwhile, Derek King had the interim tag ripped off today in Rockford, which does not quite make a chart.
- And RIP, former Brakettes manager Ralph Raymond.
F: St. Denis-Jones-C.Bourque
Ho-Sang – Lorito – Bernier (A)
D: Vande Sompel-Hutton
Helgeson (A)-Burroughs (C)
–Matt Lorito scored 1:13 into OT, and there’s a Game 5 on Saturday. Bridgeport trailed twice, and came back twice on goals from Stephen Gionta and Oliver Wahlstrom. Bridgeport outshot the Bears 40-24.