Bridgeport's Worst Weekend of the Year

 

(Michael Haley/Pope Steve XXLVII)

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have just completed their worst weekend of the year.  Playing the second of two consecutive three (games) in three (nights) series, they were only able to capture 5 of the 6 points available.  The one point missed occurred on Friday night in a game won by the Springfield Falcons in the 7th round of a shoot-out.

The team returned home to the Webster Bank Arena on Saturday for the 2nd game of the 3 in 3 weekend and through 15 minutes of the second period looked nothing like themselves.  Poulin in goal was not having his best night.  Snipers Ullstrom and Cizikas were playing in the National League and Rhett Rakhshani was still out injured. Tomas Marcinko was  also unavailable serving the 2nd game of his 3 game suspension and the team was losing 0-3 with five minutes left in the second period.  But there are four lines in hockey and winning teams get production from all four.

Most teams in hockey divide their twelve forwards into four groups. The first two groups are referred to as the ‘scoring lines’. That is where you would usually find Ullstrom, Cizikas, Rakhshani and Marcinko.The third line or ‘Checking- line’ is the line many coaches will put on the ice against an opponents top scoring line.  Two-way players, they are both physical and disruptive forces. The fourth line is called the Energy-line (my dad called it the Heart-line so I defer to him).  This is a line of hard hitting punishing players whose purpose is to wear down the opposition physically and provide bodyguard like protection for the scoring lines. The remaining six skaters that dress for the game are the defensemen or Blue-liners.

On Saturday the checking line and the heart line brought home a win for Bridgeport.  Down 3-0, Blair Riley showed his heart and woke up the crowd and the team with a glove dropper against the Bruins Kevan Millar.  Nineteen seconds later, Justin DiBenedetto put the Tigers on the board.  A McNeely steal and pass to Trevor Frischmon who made his deposit with less than a minute remaining brought the team to the locker room down 1 after two.

Enter Michael Haley – a Checking-line prototype.  Four minutes into the third Michael tied it, four shifts later Mr. Haley give Bridgeport its first lead.  Providence would tie the game at four and the final score of 5-4 would come after team captain Jeremy Colliton scored giving him his 200th career point and the Sound Tigers an unlikely win.

Sunday’s afternoon game against the Albany Devils seemed a re-run of Saturdays contest. After two the periods the Devils had a 2-0 lead and though goalie Anders Nilsson was having a good game, the Devils were having their way.

Enter Trevor Gillies – The heart of the Heart-line. His photo sits next to the wikpedia definition of the Heart-line.  This time it was Trevor’s turn to change the teams momentum and not by dropping his gloves as he would do willingly, and already had in a first period bout, but by scoring his first of the season and the teams first of the game. Trevor is emotion, his energy is absorbed by all near him. The momentum of the game had changed. The third and fourth lines had done their job and now it was time for the Blue-line to contribute.

Enter Aaron Ness – Ness had just returned to the Sound Tigers after a brief stay with the Islanders and would end up with the first star of the night. After scoring 2 goals in his first 2880 minutes of play this season, he scored 2 goals in 7 minutes and 12 seconds. Another surprising win, another comeback, another team win with contributions from all lines.

(Aaron Ness/Pope Steve XXLVII)

(Note: I initially wrote this post on Sunday after the game. It was to be called ‘Fourth Line Delivers Big’. On my way to work I picked up our local paper to read Michael Fornabiao’s story on the game. Titled ‘Fourth Line Skates Little, Delivers Big’ was close to mine, his story closer. I asked my editor, Rob McGowan, for additional time to do a rewrite and he agreed. The Fourth Line Delivers but the Fourth Estate frowns on plaigerism.)    

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