DiPietro - Re-Born In Bridgeport?
On Sunday the Bridgeport Sound Tigers faced the Albany Devils in desperate need of a win at home before beginning their last three game road trip of the season. A loss to the Devils would have ‘fat-ladies’ from across the region queued up at the arena auditioning to sing the teams’ season ending swan song.
Starting in net for the Tigers was Rick DiPietro making his eighth appearance between the pipes for the team. DiPietro’s last start was a 2-0 shutout against this same Devils team and his record stood at 4-3-0 stopping 166 of the 184 shots he had faced for a save % of .901 and a 2.81 GAA.
These numbers include his well-chronicled debut/debacle of March 1 so they don’t accurately reflect his progress, but like how-many (?) of Bonds’ HGH enhanced homers, they can’t be stricken from the books. Many detractors say that RDP’s numbers are good because he is not facing NHL talent but, any skater that has made it to this level has potential and a large number of them have PRO-tential.
An equally valid argument can be made that he does not have an NHL defense in front of him and we saw occasions of that on Sunday.
Jordan Hill #25, a D-man playing as a fill-in forward, scored the first goal of the afternoon midway through the opener when he jumped on the rebound of a shot by newly acquired Mike Keenan (Dartmouth). The goal was Hill’s fourth of the year and earned Keenan his first point as a pro with the primary assist and Sean Wiles' first of two assists on the night.
Joey Diamond #32 (U. Maine), who scored a beauty of a shoot-out goal on Saturday, also registered his first professional point when he found a streaking Sean Backman on a power play rush to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead just three minutes later. It was the tenth goal of the year for Backman who is the Sound Tigers Michael Grabner, super swift and often leading the rush he can always be spotted streaking toward the net.
Albany got on the board with less than thirty seconds remaining in the opener when Devils right winger Mike Sislo managed to get one through DiPietro to cut the lead in half.
Five minutes into the second period the defense started to fall apart and it was only because of some excellent effort by RDP that the Tigers managed to hold onto their one goal lead. On two occasions less than a minute apart the Bridgeport D gift-wrapped the puck and delivered it to the Albany team deep in their end and right between the circles.
The first gift was delivered to #23 Darcy Zajac who was denied by DiPietro with the type of save you would expect from a top-level goalie. The next turnover was spoon fed to Albany’s center #34 Phil DeSimone in the slot and once again was denied by RDP, but with Tigers D-man Jon Landry doing all he could to prevent the shot, a penalty shot was rewarded.
DeSimone approached the net on DiPietro’s paddle side patiently waiting for the right moment to pull the trigger. Not known for his patience and the consummate risk taker, DiPietro used his paddle to swat the puck harmlessly to the far-side wall before the trigger could be pulled allowing the team to maintain it’s one goal advantage. (Photo at top of post)
The Sound Tigers gained some insurance when Jordan Hill scored his second of the game (a feat he had never accomplished in his lifetime as Mike Fornabaio reported) followed by Ty Wishart’s fifth of the year. The Devils would score one more in the period to make the score 4-2 Tigers.
Neither goalie allowed a goal in the final twenty minutes and DiPietro withstood the pressure applied by the Devils who outshot the Tigers 12-4 in the third for his fifth win since reporting to Bridgeport on February 23. A huge win for the Tigers, a career night for Hill, first professional points for Keenan and Diamond and another step forward by Rick DiPietro.
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