It was another difficult weekend for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers but a weekend that gives the team and its fans hope. A weekend where the team faced two division leaders both fighting for conference Championship honors while the Tigers would just like to be invited to the dance.
Tuesday night the Bridgeport Sound Tigers defeated the division leading Springfield Falcons in another hard fought contest at the Webster Bank Arena. Hell they’re all hard fought, but this time of year with the playoffs on the horizon it’s like being twelfth in line for an Eric Church concert with only eight seats left and you don’t want to miss the show.
The Bridgeport team dominated play from the beginning outshooting the Columbus Blue Jacket’s affiliate 13 to 8 but could not get the red lamp lit. Not that the Tigers didn’t have their opportunities because they did.
Two minutes and fifteen seconds into overtime on Sunday, Hartford’s Brandon Segal took control of the puck on a two-on-one breakaway with defenseman Logan Pyett. Under heavy pressure from Sound Tigers forward Jack Combs, Segal found Pyett on his left streaking toward the goal. Pyett quick-wristed Segal’s pass to the back of the net with purpose.
The force of the puck hitting the twine trampolined BST goalie Kenny Reiter’s Gatorade bottle into the air and while waiting for the red light to start flashing and referee Ned Leduc to point his accusing finger, Reiter could only turn and watch with distain as the offending puck made its’ exit. Game over, weekend over and only one win to show for it. But we all remember how the weekend began.
All you are apt to read about Rick DiPietro’s start for the Sound Tigers on Friday night is that he gave up five goals in his twenty minutes in the net. All that most of you have read about him coming into the game has been ‘page-six’ journalism at its worst.
At the center of much of the miss-information that garnered attention, were ‘tweets’ that Kevin Maher (News 12 Long Island’s Sports Director) posted inferring DiPietro was so depressed about his being placed on waivers he had considered suicide. Toss in a few misrepresentations gathered during an interview that the oft out-spoken DiPietro was kind enough give and him and Maher earned a re-tweet or two and perhaps a headline.
What began as a normal weekend for Bridgeport’s Nino Niederreiter, turned into one of the strangest in recent memory for the team. Niederreiter made is usual call to Pete’s Deli & News for a ‘to-go’ order on his way to the arena for the Sound Tigers morning skate before the team left for Providence for the first of three games in three days.
The game in Providence started like any other before getting out of hand with the Bruins scoring the opener after two minutes of play and Matt Donovan answering four minutes later with his eighth of the season. With two minutes and thirty seconds left in the opening period, Matt Watkins was given the whistle on a very questionable hooking call, and the game changed.
The Sound Tigers would fall behind again with 26 seconds left in the middle period when the Whale scored a power play goal with Nino Niederreiter on the bench serving the teams ‘too many men on the ice’ penalty. John Persson would tie the game in the final period scoring his fifteenth of the season on Bridgeport’s second and final power play opportunity of the night, setting the stage for Sean Backman’s late game heroics.
Backman’s game has improved noticeably over the last month or so. In the past his time was spent between the hashmarks waiting for an outlet pass and avoiding the dirty areas of the ice, but no longer.
A streak is not a streak until it reaches two games and the Sound Tigers have just suffered their first losing streak of the season, this one a three gamer. Last seasons’ Division Championship winner endured two such three gamers, a four, a five and a six game swoon before they captured the title.
Though still ahead of last year’s pace (20 pts. after 17 games vs. 18 in 2011) this recent streak has caught the attention of the otherwise idle Isles organization brass.