#Sandy - And The Sound Tigers


When the Bridgeport Sound Tigers left home for this seasons first three-in-three (3 games in 3 nights) last Friday, the weather forecast was already front-page news. Hurricane Sandy was heading for the New York City metro area and was projected to be the most recent ‘Storm Of The Century’.

Alternately called ‘The Perfect Storm’ or ‘Franken-monster’ by the media, it was obvious that Sandy would wreak havoc along the Milford beaches where many of the Sound Tigers take residence during the hockey season.

Rather than change hotels each night for a Worcester-Springfield-Worcester sandwich, the team checked into a hotel in Springfield for three nights, opting to bus the 50 miles between venues. Three nights became five nights of concern for the players, few of which have ever seen a hurricane.

On Friday night the team suffered their first loss of the year and rushed to the hotel to watch the latest weather forecasts and hurricane path projections ... Sandy was coming and she was getting angry.

Saturday’s game in Springfield was a shoot-out winner for the Tigers when David Ullstrom roofed a back hander (a la Frans Nielsen) in the 7TH round to nail it. Post game, the team again fled the arena to fire up their laptops, and turn on the national news to check on Sandy’s progress … still coming, now she was pissed.

On Sunday the Sound Tigers returned to Worcester for the final game of their first extended road trip of the young season, a trip that would be extended. The city of Milford, and much of the State of Connecticut, was requiring forced evacuations of anyone living in harms way and that included most of the team.

With no rooms available in the Bridgeport area to house the players, the team had little choice but to weather the storm in Springfield. Jamie Palatini (Communications Manager) and Leni DiCostanzo (Equipment Manager) did yeoman’s work arranging for housing and precious ice-time for the team as they extended their stay in Massachusetts.

Jamie also arranged a Navy Seal like mission where players were transported back to Milford after Sunday’s matinee game in Worcester to collect, or move to higher ground, their most valuable belongings and shore up their rentals before racing back to the safe confines of the Regency in Springfield.

The team remained at the hotel practicing each morning at the Springfield Falcon’s facility and watching the destruction of the Connecticut shoreline each evening, wondering if they would have homes to return to. They returned on Halloween, and like all of us, some were luckier than others…but it was not your typical Halloween.

Doorbells weren’t being rung on mischief-night. Sandy had ripped the doors off of their hinges and tossed them around the neighborhood.

Toilet paper had not been playfully tossed into the trees. Sandy had angrily tossed the trees across power lines leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

Carved pumpkins placed on porches weren't being destroyed by pranksters, Sandy destroyed and removed the porches replacing them with a five-foot piles of sand

All of the players were lucky in that none were injured, but some were luckier than others.

The ‘Swedes House’ was spared any damage and still had power. When I saw John Persson and Johan Sundstrum on Thursday night each was more concerned about how I and other fans had fared. They were among the luckiest.

The Donovan/Backman, house was standing but without power on a street that Matt described as a ‘war zone’. They were lucky. (Photo at right is of East Broadway in Milford as captured by Matt Donovan)

The un-lucky ones included Blair Riley, Jon Landry and Brandon DeFazio whose rental, though still standing, is no longer habitable.

(The photo at the top of this article was posted on twitter by Blair Riley. In it you see a set of stairs leading to a deck that no longer exists and the concrete posts that once supported it.)

-Mike Flannery

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