Sound Tigers Win Child's Game

Tuesday night the Bridgeport Sound Tigers defeated the division leading Springfield Falcons in another hard fought contest at the Webster Bank Arena. Hell they’re all hard fought, but this time of year with the playoffs on the horizon it’s like being twelfth in line for an Eric Church concert with only eight seats left and you don’t want to miss the show.

The Bridgeport team dominated play from the beginning outshooting the Columbus Blue Jacket’s affiliate 13 to 8 but could not get the red lamp lit. Not that the Tigers didn’t have their opportunities because they did.

Sean Backman led a nice little rush over the blue line with left-winger Mike Halmo on the opposite side of the ice in stride. Deftly feeding a pass through the wickets the Falcon’s defense had erected (photo above) he found Halmo who centered himself in the slot and fired at the five hole.

Backman continued his rush to the corner and immediately turned to the net like a hawk ready to pounce on a field mouse should there be a rebound or the slightest mishandling of the puck by the goalie (photo right). But the goalie was Falcon goaltender Curtis McElhinney who doesn’t mishandle many, as his 23-11 record and .925 save percentage attest, and no goal was scored.

It wasn’t until the middle period that Sound Tigers captain Matt Watkins got the team on the board with an unassisted gem and his tenth goal of the season. Four minutes later Springfield’s D-man Will Weber answered with his first of the year, also unassisted, and the teams were knotted at one.

Nino Niederreiter put the Sound Tigers back in the lead with his team leading twenty-fifth goal of the season the same way he has many times before, he put himself in position to score. In the photo at the left you can see Niederreiter at the far side of the crease where he had positioned himself on the Tigers power play.

This time there was a rebound off another of Halmo’s shots and El Nino patiently lifted it with his backhand. Sundstrom gets ready to celebrate, referee Dave Lewis starts to raise his right arm and the puck floats into the back of the net (Photo left). Tigers 2, Falcons 1.

It didn’t end there-it never does. The Falcon’s returned the favor with a power play goal of their own, with about two-minutes left to go in the period.

Falcon’s center Andrew Joudrey rushed the net with Jon Landry applying pressure and fired a shot at BST goalie Rick DiPietro. RDP made the initial stop but the puck bounced off his blocker directly in front of the net.

The little guy (5’9”) with the big name, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, was in position and with Blair Riley trying his best to stop him and Aaron Ness rushing in JAM lifted the puck to the top shelf tying the game at two apiece.(Photo right)

Neither goalie gave up a goal in the final period, and the Sound Tigers went into overtime for the eighth time in their last sixteen games. This time they would win by beating Springfield’s goaltender McElhinney at the only game goaltenders can’t win.

Ness to Nelson (TIC) – Nelson to Ullstrom (TAC) – Ullstrom to the back of the net (TOE). Game over, TIGERS WIN!


-Mike Flannery

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