Sound Tigers Scoring Needed

Connecticut Post writer Mike Fornabaio described Sunday’s game as “… just another day at the office for Rick DiPietro in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ net.” DiPietro led his smiling teammates off the ice after registering his first shutout in Bridgeport since Dec. 4, 2002. (A 1-0 victory over the Providence Bruins-goal by Trent Hunter)

Give DiPietro (RDP) a ‘mulligan’ for his first twenty minutes in the net on March 1, and his numbers have not been bad at all (2.14 GAA stopping 157 of 170 shots for a 92.4 save percentage). But it was more than ‘just another day at the office’ when he stopped all thirty-three shots he faced against the Albany Devils on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ricky being Ricky has never been content to sit in the net and block shots for sixty minutes, the results of his wanderings often providing fans with butt-puckering moments of excitement. Perhaps bored with a 0-0 tie in the third period, RDP tried to generate some offense for the team with one of those moments.

With Devils’ forwards Darcy Zajac and Mike Hoeffel closing in, DiPietro entered the trapezoid hoping to force an odd-man rush with an outlet pass from behind the net. Caught out of position but with a cavalry charge of assistance coming from Matt Donovan, Ty Wishart and Mike Halmo, RDP managed to scramble back in time to deny Hoeffel with an acrobatic save from ten years past.

The Sound Tigers would score some three minutes after DiPietro’s big save when Aaron Ness and Scott Campbell interrupted a power play surge by the Devil’s and Campbell found Brock Nelson on the left side for a short handed opportunity. Nelson brought the puck through traffic to the front of the net forcing it through goalie Keith Kinkaid’s five-hole putting to an end to a stretch of over 118 minutes that the Sound Tigers were held scoreless.

Nino Niederreiter would provide the team a cushion with just under two minutes left in the game when he batted in a rebound off of a Sundstrom shot for his team leading 26th of the season. Tigers win 2-0 and the three stars are awarded; 1- Rick DiPietro (BST), 2- Keith Kinkaid (ALB) 41 saves and 3- Brock Nelson (BST) tie-breaking shortie.

DiPietro gives a lot of credit to BST goalie coach Steve Valiquette (his back up and goaltending partner during his Dec. 4, 2002 shut out) for his success in Mike Fornabaio’s post (linked above), but it is his own drive and determination that will complete his long awaited come back. Shown is a photo of DiPietro tossing a Tee shirt over the glass after being awarded the games first star for his 33 save effort.

DiPietro’s goaltending partner this year is Ken Reiter who since his call up from Fort Wayne (ECHL) has earned his stars as well, one in each of his four starts, but has yet to get his first win.

The Sound Tigers have only scored five goals in Reiter’s four starts leaving him with a 0-3-1 record (two losses in OT and one via shoot-out) a 1.94 GAA and a whopping 93.4 save percentage. A star earned for every game, but not a win to show for it. Here is Mike Fornabaio’s story on Reiter’s latest disappointment.

If the team is going to make any kind of a serious run at the playoffs they need to start scoring and scoring in bunches. With just fifteen games to play it is likely that Bridgeport will need to finish no worse than 11-2-1-1 to move on.

Go Tigers!

-Mike Flannery

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