The final three games played at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport were shutouts. The Sound Tigers were losers in two of those games and didn’t win the third. A scheduling conflict at the XL Center in Hartford, forced the Whale to play host to the visiting Norfolk Admirals in Bridgeport, on neutral ice, in an unfriendly environment. The only player that might have felt at ‘home’ Wednesday night was Admirals’ forward Trevor Smith, who had played over 100 games here as a popular member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Admirals won the contest with a 4-0 shutout besting the Whale and their goalie Cam ‘Tiger Killer’ Talbot, the Whale tender that got hot, and abruptly ended the season for the Sound Tigers.
A neutral site far from Norfolk, lousy weather and a Rangers vs. Capitals playoff game on TV resulted in a very small crowd. Just over 1,100 of the heartiest of fans turned out and were joined in the cheap seats by Gordie Howe, Ray Bourque and Mark Messier. The game meant nothing to the Bridgeport team, whose season had ended, but celebrations were being held by Sound Tigers from Oklahoma to Ontario, and though not nearly a Guinness record, sixty-six candles were blown out.
It is an exciting and anxious time of the hockey season when talk turns to division championships, playoff scenarios and magic numbers. This afternoon, in a matinee game against the Springfield Falcons, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers clinched a spot in the playoffs. Nice accomplishment for a very good team and well deserved but only the first step.
In mid-January each year I have to select which weeks I would like to take for my vacations. Ever the optimist, I chose the week following the end of the AHL’s regular season this year. The team was just too damned good not to make the post season and I did not want to miss a game. Today the team got the ‘W’. The asterisk next to their name indicating the division leader will be replaced with an ‘X’ – made the playoffs. Next step is to replace that coveted ‘X’ with a ‘Y’ – Division Champion and the team has five hours of hockey remaining to earn it.
The players have not been allowed on the ice at the Webster Bank Arena since their loss to the Norfolk Admirals on Sunday, March 11. They have been allowed to remove equipment and personal belongings from the locker room but they are not permitted to use the ice, whether for practice or conditioning. Still in contention to win the divisional title and thus a third seed in the playoffs, the Sound Tigers need their ice time.
Fortunately two excellent local facilities (Bridgeport’s ‘Wonderland Of Ice’ and Shelton’s ‘Sports Center of Connecticut’) are available to satisfy the need for ice time but something else will be missing. When finally allowed to return to home ice at the arena on the 25th of March, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers logo will not be at center ice.
Changing Daylight Saving Time to the second weekend of March has made this my least favorite weekend of the year. Well into my training regimen for St. Patrick’s Day the last thing I need to lose is an hour of sleep. It would also prove to be a difficult weekend for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Another three games in three nights can be expected but this past weekend the opponents could not have been tougher. On Friday the Tigers visited Hartford the team with the AHL’s best home record, 16-4-2-4. Saturday the team would return home to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins holders of the AHL’s best road record at an amazing 22-6-0-3. Shortened Sunday would find the Tigers at home against the AHL’s point leading Norfolk Admirals and winners of fourteen games in a row. Bridgeport did not post a win in those three games (first time winless in three in 2012) but they were not played in any game and picked up two valuable points in the process.
After their first week of free agency focused on replacing scoring from the wing and swapping one accomplished defenseman for another, the Carolina Hurricanes turned in-house with signings of some younger players (all 24 or under) who have started making an impact in the NHL.
Five players inked deals starting July 8, with center Brandon Sutter and blue-liner Derek Joslin on the NHL roster while forward Brett Sutter and defensemen Brett Bellemore and Bobby Sanguinetti all signed two-way deals and will likely start the season with the AHL-affiliate Charlotte Checkers. The signings, even those only for one year, continue a pattern of instilling solid depth and development ...