Sweet Suite Night
The first annual ‘Suite Seat Competition’, sponsored by The Checking Line – Isles Edition was a huge success at every level. Any time you can make a six-year old happy you had a good day and Justin Juliano (whose father Joseph was our Grand Prize Winner) never stopped smiling. An hour before game time and the Webster Bank Arena concourse was already getting crowded as our groups' VIP tour began. Artfully led by my personal account rep. Maddie Gillan, we navigated through the crowds to the seldom seen areas of the arena as she explained how they each come together to produce a circus, concert or other of the many events held at the arena. We were there for the game between the Connecticut Whale and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and ended our tour in suite 417, our home for the afternoon.
The crowd was a good one. 7,573 hockey fans, many of them Ranger/Whale fans were gathered to watch the final game of the season between these in-state rivals fighting for the division championship. It was another hard fought battle with the momentum swings you can expect in any well-played game. Bridgeport took an early lead off Scott Howes 10th goal of the season nine minutes into the first followed 2 minutes later by Rhett Rakhshani’s 15th. Hartford would tie the game with two goals of their own before Steve Oleksy would put the Tigers back on top with his well-deserved first AHL goal with 45 seconds to go in the period.
The second period was non-stop back and forth action with both goalies making heroic saves bringing the Tigers to the second intermission holding onto the same one goal advantage at 3-2. Sound Tigers Communications Manager-Jamie Palatini provided the surprise of the night when he brought defenseman Russ Sinkewich to the suite to meet us. It was the highlight of the night for young Justin and all of us.
Russ, at 6 foot 4 and 220 pounds, filled the suite and his smile would brighten any room. Called up to Bridgeport on Feb. 29th the 26 year old from Westlake, Ohio signed autographs and answered questions about his four years at Bowling Green State and how much he enjoyed playing for Tigers coach Brent Thompson ,’Tommer’, last season winning the ECHL’s Kelly cup for the Alaska Aces. His playoff experience last season will prove vital to this teams success in the weeks to come.
The final period was played with all of the intensity and excitement of a playoff game. Hartford would tie the game 7 minutes in ultimately forcing the game into overtime and giving each team a valuable and hard fought for point. Bridgeport would take the final available point in dramatic fashion when Matt Donovan would net his first career game-winning goal with just 2 seconds left on the clock. A fitting end to the game, and a wonderful experience for all of us in suite 417.
- Russ Sinkewich: For taking the time to meet us and giving a 6 year-old the memory of a lifetime.
- Howard Saffan and his wonderful staff of people who make events like suite nights possible.
- The Bridgeport Sound Tigers: For one more wonderful night of hockey in what has been one wonderfully successful season.
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