Luck Ain't No Lady
Luck is a cruel mistress who will leave you in the middle of the night to lay with another. Welcomed when this lady arrives the only thing you can count on is her infidelity. It won’t be luck that wins the Bridgeport Sound Tigers the Northeast Division championship. That will only come with work, effort and commitment. Sixty minutes of work every game, 100% effort on each shift and a total commitment to the teams systems and each other.
Tuesday night, in a surprising win against the Worcester Sharks, the team regained some of its’ swagger from earlier in the year. The Tigers did not show up for the first period. Back on skates after missing six games due to a shoulder injury, forward Kael Mouillierat was quoted by Mike Fornabaio in his Connecticut Post game review as saying “We just sat there watching. We let them take it to us.” And take it to them the they did.
Forty-two seconds into the middle period, Worcester scored their 3rd unanswered goal. Down 3-0, the Tigers didn’t tuck their tails or hang their heads. They went back to what brought them to the top of the division. Tony Romano described it best in his post-game “It was a wakeup call. Moving our feet, getting it deep, using the back of the net. That’s our bread and butter.”
The Tigers would tie the game at four, coming back from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits, when Mouillierat scored his eighth goal of the season in 34 starts with 7.5 seconds left in the second period. The only goal scored in the final period would be the game winner, a power play goal (and his second of the night) by Justin DiBenedetto with his team leading 20th goal of the season. Tony Romano (a point-a-night player of late) would finish the night with a club record tying four assists. The swagger is back.
The photo above was taken by Rhett Rakhshani at Monday mornings' skate following Sundays' thrilling overtime win over the team from Hartford. Pictured (from bottom to top) are Steve Oleksy, battered but not beaten; Matt Donovan, confused by his latest purchase from Victoria's Secret; a stoic Aaron Ness and the always camera shy Sean Backman. Rhett took one for the team Sunday night and it was more painful than taking this photo. After scoring a goal and an assist, he put his body in harms way to block a shot and would miss Tuesdays' game with a lower body injury. He will be back soon and ready to go for the playoffs.
Sundays' game was typical of games played by these two teams. Six of their ten meetings this season were decided in overtime, two others were decided by one goal. This game, their final regular season match-up of the year, was decided with two tenths of a second left in overtime when Matt Donovan scored the first game winning goal of his young and promising career. Another first for a Sound Tiger on Sunday was scored by a player trying out a new piece of equipment.
Steve Oleksy (Photo by: Pope Steve XXLVII) in a game on Thursday at Springfield threw a beauty of a hip check on one of the Falcons players. Perfectly legal and well executed, the victim did a one-eighty in the layout position before hitting the ice. Unfortunately, a three-sixty is needed to get you back on your skates and he crashed to the ice face first. There were no whistles on the play, none were needed as the hit was a clean one, but Steve paid the penalty. A vicious nose rearrangement was doled out as his penalty in hockeys' on-ice court of justice.
Oleksy will wear a full face shield, or 'fish bowl' as he calls it, while his nose gets used to its' new shape and location. He seems to have adjusted well to his new equipment as he scored his first career AHL goal Sunday. Steve has been alternating his ice time from forward to defense the last week or so as needed, so I can't say which he was playing when he scored but he scored playing the system. Crashing the net as Matt Donovan rifled a shot from high in the slot he was in perfect position to backhand the rebound home for his first.
Sunday afternoons game was a preview of what to expect in the first round of this years AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. It is very likely that the Tigers and the Whale will face each other again in round one. What may not be decided until the last game of the season on April 15, is who will have home ice advantage. My next post will give a more detailed look at playoff scenario. Thanks for the read, Go Tigers!
Follow me @hockeyflan
Follow the staff @TCLIsles