Sound Tigers Weird Weekend


What began as a normal weekend for Bridgeport’s Nino Niederreiter, turned into one of the strangest in recent memory for the team. Niederreiter made is usual call to Pete’s Deli & News for a ‘to-go’ order on his way to the arena for the Sound Tigers morning skate before the team left for Providence for the first of three games in three days. (Niederreiter in position as always to put it home).

Pete (Panagiotis Filippakis) and his wife Maria own the deli, which has become a favorite stop for some of the team and many of us locals on our way to work in the morning. Nino’s standard order is ham, egg and cheese on an ‘everything’ bagel and a ham, egg and cheese with ketchup on a sesame bagel. (Pete started carrying the ‘everything’ bagel as a favor to Casey Cizikas’ and ‘Zeeker’ returned the favor giving Pete his private number to use if Pete ever needed tickets to an Islanders game).

The game in Providence started like any other before getting out of hand with the Bruins scoring the opener after two minutes of play and Matt Donovan answering four minutes later with his eighth of the season. With two minutes and thirty seconds left in the opening period, Matt Watkins was given the whistle on a very questionable hooking call, and the game changed.

With thirty-four seconds left in Watkins penalty the Bruins scored their first of three power play goals when Christian Hanson scored his sixth of the season at the end of a perfectly executed tic-tac-toe. (Hanson is the son of Dave Hanson of the ‘Slap-Shot’s Hanson brothers). Forty-two seconds after returning to even strength Bruins’ center Kyle MacKinnon, camped in front of goalie Kevin Poulin, was awarded a goal while clearly in the paint.

The Bruins’ would score three more, two PP and one SH, before Bridgeport’s Backman and DeFazio responded with goals of their own. Mike Fornabaio’s CT Post, post-game report captures the coach and the teams’ frustration:

“I don’t like to comment on the officiating,” Bridgeport coach Scott Pellerin said. “But if I ever was going to comment, I would comment tonight. That’s it.”

The Bruins and Sound Tigers would play each other the following night at Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena in one of the weirdest games I have ever witnessed. It began as normal as any other with Providence dictating pace and dominating play while out-shooting the Tigers 14-9 and taking a 2-0 lead to the locker room after the opening period.

Bridgeport’s DeFazio would cut the lead in half 3 minutes into the middle frame with his 9TH of the year and then the whistles started. Twenty seconds after killing Donovan’s penalty for cross checking, Nelson was asked to take a seat for holding.

He was joined less than a minute later by Landry (slashing) and shortly thereafter Backman filled the box (delay of game). A long five on three on tired legs.

The Bruins leading scorer Jamie Tardif eventually scored on the extended power play but not before Poulin had made some terrific saves and Aaron Ness temporarily took the crease to record a big save of his own (Photo). Down 3-1 the Tigers mounted a come back on goals by Niederreiter (22) and Backman (whose 7 goals tie his previous best as a professional).

Providence would take the lead once again after a prolonged scuffle in front of the net ended when crease-camping MacKinnon forced one over the line. Backman appeared to the tie the game at the 4:30 mark when he fired a shot past Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg put referee Trevor Hanson (no relation to the aforementioned) ruled ‘no goal’, after the net was displaced by a beaten Svedberg.

On a very similar play during Bridgeport’s Nov. 9 game against the Manchester Monarchs, the same referee (Hanson) assessed Bridgeport’s goalie Anders Nilsson a 2-minute delay of game penalty same situation, different decision. The AHL is also a developmental league for officials and mistakes are made but two nights in a row the Tigers were being skewered and then they got screwed.

Down 4-3 with momentum and the home crowd behind them the Tigers would get a faceoff in the Bruins end after an icing call with 22.9 seconds left on the clock, one last opportunity to pull it out. Well it should have been.

Linesman Brent Colby dropped the puck before Sound Tigers forward Matt Watkins was in position. A quick pass by the only contestant in the face off went to a waiting Torey Krug resulting in a long bank shot off the glass into an empty net sealing it for the Bruins, 5-3 game over, but not the penalties.

Backman was given a misconduct (for voicing his displeasure?) and Sound Tigers assistant coach Eric Boguniecki was assessed a game misconduct for his post game interaction with officials. (More from Fornabaio)

The weekend came to an end on Sunday when the visiting Norfolk Admirals scored the tying goal with 3:48 left in regulation and won it two minutes into overtime. It was once again a lopsided affair as far as man advantage goes BST 0/2 on the power play and NOR 2/8 with the extra man. Power play totals for the weekend: BST 0 for 7, OPP’s 6 for 20.

The team picked up one point of six available this weekend and sits in tenth place in the race for eight and a playoff berth. The schedule doesn't get any easier and the opponents don’t get any softer but we all hope for a more level playing surface.


-Mike Flannery

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